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Create a WordPress sitemap: A comprehensive guide

How WordPress automatically creates sitemaps

With the introduction of WordPress 5.5, the automatic generation of sitemaps was integrated into the WordPress system as a core function. This is why many WordPress developer and WordPress Freelancer no longer need any special plugins to generate a WordPress sitemap.

This function allows WordPress websites to create sitemaps without additional plugins or manual intervention. Here is an overview of how WordPress automatically generates sitemaps:

Standard WordPress functionality for creating a sitemap

As soon as a WordPress website is set up with version 5.5 or higher, the system automatically generates an XML sitemap. This means that the user no longer has to create a WordPress sitemap themselves.

This WordPress sitemap helps search engines to quickly find and index the most important content. For this reason alone, creating a WordPress sitemap always makes sense.

Automated updates

The WordPress sitemap is automatically recreated when posts, pages or custom post types are added, changed or deleted.

This ensures that the WordPress sitemap always contains the latest information about the website structure.

Easy accessibility

The generated XML sitemap is available at the URL yourdomain.com/wp-sitemap.xml reachable.

This URL can be used to lead search engines directly to the WordPress sitemap or to submit the XML sitemap manually to search engines such as Google Search Console. I repeat myself: you do not need to create a separate WordPress sitemap, at most, you also need an HTML sitemap.

Sitemap structure

The sitemap generated by WordPress is an index sitemap that links to other sitemaps. It includes links to various content sitemaps for posts, pages, authors and other taxonomies. This structure makes it easier for search engines to understand and efficiently search the content of the website.

Limitation of entries

By default, WordPress limits the number of entries in a single sitemap to 2000 URLs. This restriction helps to keep the XML sitemap files clear and ensures that they can be processed quickly by search engines.

Filters and hooks

Developers have the option of customizing the automatic sitemap generation of WordPress using various filters and hooks. For example, they can add additional URLs, exclude certain post types or change the number of URLs listed in an HTML sitemap file. This also helps to avoid manual HTML sitemap creation.

SEO plugins and extensions

Although WordPress offers basic sitemap functionality, many websites still use SEO plugins to get advanced XML sitemap features and finer control.

These plugins can override the default sitemap and provide additional options for sitemap generation and management.

The automatic HTML sitemap generation by WordPress ensures that all websites, even those without SEO plugins, have a basic level of search engine friendliness.

This is an important step to improve visibility and findability on the web for all WordPress users.

Overview of sitemap plugins

In the world of WordPress, there are a variety of plugins that simplify the creation and management of WordPress sitemaps. In addition to the basic functionality, these plugins often offer additional features that improve control over the SEO and visibility of a website. One disadvantage is that each plugin requires additional effort as part of the WordPress maintenance contract can cause.

Here is an overview of some of the most popular WordPress sitemap plugins and how they work:

Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO is one of the best-known and most-used SEO plugins for WordPress. You could also call it the favorite plugin of most WordPress agencies to designate. It not only enables the optimization of posts and pages for search engines, but also automatically generates an XML sitemap for the website.

Users can control which content should appear in the WordPress sitemap and make settings for individual posts and pages.

All in One SEO Pack (AIOSEO)

The All in One SEO Pack, also known as AIOSEO, is another comprehensive SEO plugin that offers automatic XML sitemap generation.

Similar to Yoast SEO, it allows fine-grained control over what content is included in the WordPress sitemap. AIOSEO is known for its ease of use and powerful features.

Google XML Sitemaps

Google XML Sitemaps is a specialized plugin that is used exclusively to create a WordPress sitemap.

It is a good choice for those looking for a simple, lightweight plugin that works independently of the more comprehensive SEO tools. This plugin ensures fast and effective indexing by search engines.


SEOPress is another SEO plugin that allows for easy XML sitemap creation and management. It is a solid alternative to Yoast and AIOSEO, with similar features to optimize the website for higher search engine rankings.

Rank Math

Rank Math is a relatively newer player in the SEO plugin space, but has quickly made a name for itself. It offers detailed control over WordPress sitemap settings and also integrates SEO analysis tools, making it a powerful all-in-one solution for WordPress SEO.

The SEO Framework

The SEO Framework is a plugin known for its speed and ease of use. It offers automated SEO solutions, including XML sitemap integration, without burdening the system, making it ideal for webmasters who value performance.

These plugins offer a variety of functions that go beyond the mere creation of an XML sitemap.

They help optimize the entire website by adding meta tags, improving social media presence and providing real-time SEO analytics.

When choosing the right WordPress sitemap plugin, you should consider your individual needs and the complexity of your website.

While some plugins offer extensive features that can be useful for large or complex websites, other users may prefer a simpler plugin that focuses on sitemap functionality.

Advantages of using plugins for sitemap creation

Using plugins to create sitemaps in WordPress offers a number of advantages that go beyond the basic functionalities of XML sitemap creation. Here are some of the most important advantages:

1. user-friendliness

Plugins simplify the process of XML sitemap creation considerably. Even users without technical know-how can effectively create and manage sitemaps thanks to intuitive user interfaces and step-by-step instructions.

2. automation

As soon as a sitemap plugin is set up, changes to the website are automatically added to the sitemap. New pages are added and deleted pages are removed without the user having to intervene manually.

3. adjustment

Most XML sitemap plugins offer options for customizing the sitemap. Users can select which post types, categories or pages are to be included in the sitemap and which priority is assigned to them.

4. improved indexing

By using a WordPress sitemap plugin, webmasters can ensure that their content is properly structured and therefore easier to index by search engines. This can lead to faster and more efficient findability of content.

5. SEO integration

Many WordPress sitemap plugins are part of comprehensive SEO toolsets that offer additional SEO features, such as optimizing meta tags, creating breadcrumbs, managing redirects and more.

6. support with troubleshooting

Some plugins offer support in identifying and fixing problems, such as broken links or pages that should not be indexed. They can issue warnings if there are problems with the WordPress sitemap that could affect SEO performance. So you don't have to worry about every little thing Request help from WordPress support.

7. search engine notifications

Many XML sitemap plugins offer the option of automatically notifying search engines when the WordPress sitemap is updated. This means that new content can be crawled more quickly by search engines.

8 Compatibility and updates

SEO plugins are regularly updated to remain compatible with the latest WordPress versions and SEO standards. This ensures that the WordPress sitemap is always in line with best practice.

9. time saving

The automation and ease of use of plugins saves webmasters time otherwise spent on manual XML sitemap creation and updates.

10. additional functions

Some plugins offer additional functions, such as the creation of HTML sitemaps, which can be useful not only for search engines but also for users to navigate the website.

Using XML sitemap plugins in WordPress allows webmasters to optimize their websites more efficiently for search engines and users, which in turn can improve online presence and website performance.

The role of XML sitemaps in WordPress

WordPress simplifies the creation and management of XML sitemaps. With the introduction of WordPress version 5.5, sitemap generation became a standard function of WordPress.

Every WordPress website now has a built-in sitemap function that automatically generates an XML sitemap. In addition, there are numerous SEO plugins such as Yoast SEO and All in One SEO, which can extend and customize the sitemap generation.

Best practices for sitemaps in WordPress

  • Actuality: Always keep your XML sitemap up to date so that search engines can detect the latest changes to your website.
  • Cleanliness: Make sure that your sitemap does not contain any 404 errors (pages not found), as this can affect the credibility of your website.
  • Relevance: Only include URLs in your WordPress sitemap that are relevant for search engines. Temporary pages or pages with duplicate content should be excluded.
  • Organization: Structure your XML sitemap to reflect the hierarchy and relevance of the pages. Use the priority and change frequency tags to show search engines which pages are most important.

In summary, a sitemap is an indispensable tool for search engine optimization that improves the visibility and findability of a website's content. In the world of WordPress, sitemaps are easy to create and manage thanks to built-in features and plugins, making them a valuable part of any SEO strategy.

The importance of sitemaps for SEO

The importance of XML sitemaps for search engine optimization (SEO) cannot be overestimated. They play a decisive role in how search engines perceive the structure of a website and how efficiently and effectively its content is indexed.

Here are the main reasons why sitemaps are important for SEO:

1. improvement of indexing

Sitemaps serve as a kind of guide for search engine bots to navigate through the website. They point the way to all important pages, especially those that may not be easily accessible through the website's internal link structure. By providing an XML sitemap, webmasters ensure that search engines are aware of all relevant pages, increasing the likelihood that these pages will be indexed and displayed in search results.

2. acceleration of the crawl process

For new websites e.g. after a WordPress redesigna WordPress sitemap can help speed up the crawl process. Instead of waiting for a search engine bot to randomly come across a page, an XML sitemap tells the search engine exactly where to find new content. This is particularly important for websites that regularly publish new content or update existing content.

3. increase in efficiency

WordPress sitemaps allow search engines to work more efficiently by preventing bots from wasting time crawling duplicate or low-value pages. Webmasters can control this by not including such pages in the sitemap or by adjusting the priority settings in the XML sitemap file accordingly.

4. improvement of the user experience

Although XML sitemaps were primarily developed for search engines, they also have an indirect positive effect on the user experience.

A well-structured XML sitemap that helps search engines identify the most relevant and valuable pages can lead to these pages being ranked higher in search results.

This means that users are more likely to come across quality content, resulting in a better user experience.

5. support with the architecture of the website

Creating a sitemap forces webmasters to think about the structure and hierarchy of their website. This can lead to the website being organized in a way that is intuitive and accessible for both users and search engines.

6. transmission of important metadata

Modern XML sitemaps can contain additional information such as the last update of the page, the frequency of changes and the significance of a page in the context of the overall website.

This metadata can help search engines determine the crawl frequency for different pages and evaluate the importance of certain pages in relation to others on the website.

Overall, a sitemap is a basic SEO tool that is essential for complete and effective indexing.

While a sitemap alone will not dramatically improve a website's SEO ranking, it is an essential element that, when combined with other SEO best practices, can help to significantly increase a website's visibility in search engines.

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