What Is XML Sitemap And Why Do I Need It?

What is XML sitemap

XML sitemaps are a bit of a techy conversation that most writers don’t really need to worry much about. This is a process that is done once in the early days of your project with a simple plugin installation and after that you can forget it. The major benefit of implementing this is that it helps search engines learn more about your site and your content, and hopefully index you and rank you better.

XML sitemap is an easy way for an author to inform search engines about pages and posts on his/her site that are available for crawling. In its simplest form, a Sitemap is an XML file that lists URL’s for a site along with additional metadata about each URL. Information like when the post was last updated, how often it usually changes, and how important it is, relative to other URL’s on the site. This way search engines can more intelligently crawl the site and hopefully index and rank your content better in their results.

Web crawlers usually discover your pages from links within the site and from other online sites. Sitemaps supplement this data to allow crawlers that support Sitemaps to pick up all URL’s in the Sitemap and learn about those URL’s using the associated metadata.

Your sitemap will never be listed publicly on your site itself, your visitors won’t be viewing or visiting it and you don’t have a need to do anything to keep it current and up to date.

XML sitemap plugin options

Using the XML sitemap protocol does not really guarantee that your posts and pages are included in search engines, but it provides hints for web crawlers to do a better job when crawling your site. Then for you it is all about you creating some great content and getting the content out to as many people as possible through social media, commenting and other promotional methods. Doing this could result in your article getting shared in social media and getting links from other pages which will make the search engines aware of your content and which will help you rank better for relevant search phrases.

The easiest way of implementing an XML Sitemap on your site is to use one of the free WordPress plugins like Google XML Sitemap Generator. These sitemap plugins generate an XML-Sitemap compliant sitemap of your page in format that is supported by Google, Yahoo and other search engines. Alternative plugin option is Yoast SEO plugin that also features the XML sitemap generation.

The good thing about this is that these plugins update the sitemap automatically when you publish new content so definitely no need to do anything after you activate the plugin. Activate it, forget it, it will do the work it does while you can focus on the important tasks like creating content. The only other tip I want to give you is to make sure to submit your XML sitemap link to your Google Webmaster Tools account so Google is aware of your sitemap and can index it.