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How to create, distribute and monitor a WordPress sitemap for SEO optimization?

Have you ever wondered why your website is not getting the visibility it deserves in search engines?

Why some pages of your site are not indexed? Maybe the answer lies in your sitemap.

A sitemap is a blueprint that provides a roadmap of your website’s content, guiding search engine robots to crawl your site more intelligently. 

In this way, you can significantly improve your site’s visibility and boost your SEO rankings.

But how does a sitemap work and what is its role in SEO? More importantly, how do you create and validate a sitemap if you use WordPress?

In this blog post, I will answer these questions and explain the importance of a sitemap in SEO, provide you with an overview of WordPress sitemaps and guide you to create, submit and monitor a WordPress sitemap. So, let’s get started!


How does a sitemap work?

WordPress sitemap for SEO optimization

The sitemap works as a communication tool between your website and the search engines.

Whenever a search engine bot visits your site, it searches the sitemap to get an overview of your site’s structure. It provides the bot with details about each page, such as how recently it was updated and the frequency of changes, guiding it on which pages to crawl and when.

It also helps search engines understand the hierarchy and categorization of your site, which can be especially useful for larger websites with many pages. Guarantees that search engines discover all pages, even if internal links do not reach them.

WordPress Sitemaps

The importance of a sitemap in SEO

There is no overstating the importance of a sitemap in search engine optimization. They increase the crawlability of your website, ensuring that search engine robots can find and index your content efficiently. Hence improving visibility and ranking in search engine results.

For WordPress, a sitemap can be especially beneficial. Taking into account the popularity of WordPress as a content management system, having a well-structured sitemap can give your site an edge over others.

WordPress Sitemap Overview

In WordPress, there are two main types of sitemaps: XML and HTML. Below is a quick comparison of the two.

XML SitemapHTML Sitemap
PurposeEssentially for search engines. Destined for human visitors.
FunctionalityTo inform search engines about the pages of your website, their relative importance and the frequency with which they are updated.It provides an overview of the content and structure of your website.
BenefitsEnables search engines to crawl your site more intelligently.Assists visitors in navigating your website.

An example of XML Sitemap

OpenZone XML Sitemap
OpenZone XML Sitemap

Below is a breakdown of the XML sitemap code:

The first line indicates that this is an XML file.

The <urlset> line begins the list of URLs.
The <url> tags contain information about a specific web page.
<loc> includes the URL of the web page.
<lastmod> includes the date the web page was last modified.
<changefreq> reports the frequency with which the web page changes.
<priority> reports the importance of this web page compared to others on your site.
<image:image> is a good way to inform Google about other images on your site, especially those that we wouldn’t otherwise find (such as images that your site reaches with JavaScript code).
The </url> tag ends the information about a web page.
The </urlset> line ends the list of URLs.

This scheme is repeated for each web page you want to include in the sitemap.

HTML sitemap examples

An HTML sitemap can look like this:

OpenZone HTML Sitemap
OpenZone HTML Sitemap

Here’s a breakdown of the HTML sitemap code:

<!DOCTYPE html>: Tells the browser this is an HTML5 document.
<html>: Starts the HTML document.
<body>: Starts the section where webpage content goes.
<h1>Sitemap</h1>: Creates a main heading that says Sitemap.
<ul>: Starts a list.
<li><a href=””>Homepage</a></li>: Makes a list item that’s a link to and says Homepage.
<li><a href=””>Noticias/Blog</a></li>: Makes another list item that’s a link to and says Noticias/Blog.
<!– Add more links as needed –>: A note in the code that isn’t shown on the webpage.
</ul>, </body>, </html>: Ends the list, webpage content, and HTML document.

Your sitemaps would likely include more URLs and possibly additional information. Both types of sitemaps have their own unique benefits and uses, and understanding them is key to maximizing the SEO potential of your WordPress site.

How to create a WordPress sitemap

✓ Use of the integrated function

WordPress 5.5 to later versions incorporate an XML sitemap feature. They automatically create an XML sitemap for your website and make it available to search engines.

You can find the sitemap at It includes custom entries, pages and entry types, ensuring that search engines can efficiently find and index your content.

✓ Use of SEO plugins

There are various SEO plugins that can help you create a more customized sitemap. Moreover, each of these plugins offers unique features and benefits, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs.

Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO automatically provides an XML sitemap for your WordPress site. In addition, it allows you to choose which types of content to include in the sitemap and notifies search engines whenever your site content is updated.

✓ Install and activate Yoast SEO plugin.
Install and activate Yoast SEO plugin
Install and activate Yoast SEO plugin
✓ Click on Yoast SEO in the left menu.
Yoast SEO in the left menu.
Yoast SEO in the left menu.
✓ Click Settings → Site Features.
Site Features
✓ Select the option Activate in the API card → XML Sitemaps.
XML Sitemaps
✓ To consult your sitemap, click on View XML sitemap.
✓ The XML sitemap generated by Yoast SEO will appear in the new tab.

All-in-One SEO

All-in-One SEO
All-in-One SEO

The SEO All-in-One module creates an XML sitemap and allows you to adjust its settings. In addition, you can set priorities, change the frequencies of your messages and pages, and add additional pages to your sitemap.

✓ Installation and activation of the SEO All-in-One plugin
Installation and activation of the SEO All-in-One plugin
✓ Select SEO All-in-One from the menu on the left.
aioseo plugin dashboard
✓ Select Sitemap → General Sitemap.
aioseo general sitemap
✓ Make sure that the Enable Sitemap option is checked. If not, activate the button and click Save changes.
Enable Sitemap option
✓ To view your site map, click on Open site map.
✓ In the new tab you will see the XML sitemap generated by All-in-One SEO.
✓ From Sitemaps → Sitemaps Settings, it is possible to customize the following settings.

Turn on sitemap indexes: With this option you can organize the sitemap entries in separate files. We recommend enabling this option if the sitemap contains more than 1,000 URLs.
Bindings per sitemap: This configuration allows you to specify the maximum number of entries in a sitemap (up to 50,000).
Input types: You can select the types of entries that will appear in the sitemap.
Taxonomies: With this setting you can select which Taxonomies will appear in your sitemap.
Date Archive Sitemap: Check this option if you want to include Date Archives in your sitemap.
Author Sitemap: Choose this option if you want to include Author Archives in your sitemap.

✓ Also, in the Additional Pages section, you can add URLs to your sitemap that are not part of your WordPress site. So, for example, if you want a contact form to appear in your sitemap, you can manually enter its URL here.
✓ Extension SEO All-in-One also includes advanced settings. Below we explain how you can use them:

Exclude Entries/Pages: Your can remove specific entries or pages from your sitemap.
Exclude Terms: Utilize this option to remove certain terms from your sitemap.
Priority Score: Use this option to set the importance of a URL in relation to other URLs on your site.
Entry Type Priority Score: Use this option to prioritize different types of entries on your site.
Taxonomy priority score: Enables you to set the priority of the different taxonomies on your site.
Exclude images: Use this option if you do not want images to appear in the sitemap.

Don’t forget that each of these settings can be enabled or disabled according to your needs.

Google XML Sitemaps

Google XML Sitemaps
Google XML Sitemaps

The Google XML Sitemaps generates a special XML sitemap to help search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and to better index your blog. Also provides options to customize priorities and change frequencies.

✓ Installation and activation of the Google XML Sitemaps plugin.
Installation and activation of the Google XML Sitemaps plugin.


The WordPress sitemap helps search engines find your site’s content. One can be created using the built-in WordPress feature or SEO plugins such as Yoast SEO, All-in-One SEO, Google XML sitemaps or online tools.

Of course, the process doesn’t end there. Periodically check the sitemap to make sure it is error-free. Understanding the most common sitemap errors and knowing how to fix them is critical to maintaining the SEO health of your site.

Remember that a well-structured, error-free sitemap can significantly improve your site’s visibility in search engine results, which translates into increased traffic and greater engagement with your content.

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