How to Create an XML Sitemap

Do you want to set up an XML Sitemap for your site to let search engines know when you publish or change content?

All in One SEO makes this really easy. In fact it’s enabled by default and there’s very little configuration needed.

Here we’ll show you how to review the settings and check your sitemap so that you can be confident it includes all the right content.


What is an XML Sitemap?

An XML Sitemap is a special webpage that lists all of your content. It includes information such as when your content last changed.

It’s an essential part of SEO because it helps search engines find your content and tells them when you’ve changed or removed content.

Search engines use this information to decide what needs to be included and updated in search results.

Without an XML Sitemap, it would take longer for your content to appear on, or be removed from search engines.

It’s very important that you understand what’s included in your XML Sitemap. You should check it frequently to be sure that you’re including the right content, and excluding content you don’t want search engines to see.

Viewing Your XML Sitemap

First, let’s make sure you can view your XML Sitemap.

To get started, go to Sitemaps in the All in One SEO menu.

You’ll see the General Sitemap screen and you should see that Enable Sitemap is on. If it’s off, you’ll want to turn it on.

Click the Open Sitemap button to view your XML Sitemap.

You should see an index page for your XML Sitemap that looks like this:

The index page lists all of the sitemaps for your site. Each sitemap contains a different type of content. For example, above you’ll see there’s one for Posts and one for Pages.

Click on each link in the index to see the list of that content.

Now that you know how to view your XML Sitemap, let’s look at the basic settings.

Configuring the XML Sitemap

Let’s start by deciding whether you want to have an index page for your sitemap.

If your site is very small (less than a few hundred URLs) then you may not need an index page. You can go ahead and set Enable Sitemap Indexes to Disabled.

If you’re in any doubt, just leave this set to Enabled.

Next, we’re going to decide how many URLs are listed in each sitemap.

When Sitemap Indexes are enabled, you’ll see a setting for Links Per Sitemap.

We limit each sitemap page to 1,000 URLs. If you have more than 1,000 URLs for any type of content, we’ll split the sitemap into pages, with 1,000 URLs in each page.

This helps to reduce the time it takes to create each sitemap so that search engines don’t give up when it takes too long.

You can typically leave this setting alone. If it’s taking too long to view your sitemap pages then lower this number.

The next setting is Automatically Ping Search Engines. This will enable All in One SEO to notify search engines when your content has changed. Typically you’ll want to leave this set to Yes.

Next, we’re going to decide what content we want to include in our sitemap. There are two settings here, Post Types and Taxonomies. If you want to include all your content then you can leave the Include All Post Types and Include All Taxonomies check boxes set to checked. If you uncheck these two check boxes you’ll see a list of all your content post types and taxonomies and can select which to include in your sitemap.

Important:
Any content that has been set to be excluded from search results or set to No index under Search Appearance will not appear in these settings.

The last two settings are for date archives and author archives that are created by WordPress when you’ve published posts. We normally don’t include these in the sitemap because they have little value in search results. If you do want to include these in your sitemap then you can enable these settings.

Note:
Search engines can still index your content and display it in search results even if its not included in your sitemap. Including content in your sitemap just means it’ll be added, updated and deleted on search engines much faster than waiting until they find your content on your own.

An XML sitemap is a list of all your content that search engines use when they crawl your site. This is an essential part of SEO because it contains some important pieces of information that search engines need when crawling your site.

The XML Sitemap created by All in One SEO tells search engines where to find all of the content on your site and it tells them about all your images.

This guide walks you through the simple steps needed to create your XML sitemap and submit it to Google and Bing.

First, you want to make sure you have activated the XML Sitemap module in the Feature Manager.

Feature Manager in All in One SEO

 

If the module is activated, you will see XML Sitemap listed under the All in One SEO menu. Click on this to configure the settings.

XML Sitemap settings in All in One SEO

Now let's create our XML sitemap.

Schedule Updates

First, in the Schedule Updates drop down, select the schedule that best matches how often you update the content on your site. If you're not sure what to select then choose Weekly.

NOTE: All in One SEO automatically notifies Google and Bing whenever you publish, update or delete content on your site.

Enable Sitemap Indexes

The next option is Enable Sitemap Indexes. We strongly recommend that you enable this option. The default setting of 1000 for Maximum Posts Per Sitemap Page is fine for most sites, however, if you have a large site or a site with lots of images then you may want to reduce this number to avoid problems.

Post Types / Taxonomies

The next two options are to do with the content on your site - Post Types and Taxonomies. Using the checkboxes here, you can choose which content you want included in your XML sitemap. Check the boxes next to the post types and taxonomies you want to include.

Include Date Archive Pages

If your site is a news website that has date archives then check this box to Include Date Archive Pages. If you are unsure, leave this unchecked.

Include Author Pages

If you have a site where you have multiple authors with their own author pages then check this box to Include Author Pages. If you are unsure, leave this unchecked.

Dynamically Generate Sitemap

Make sure that the Dynamically Generate Sitemap box is checked. This option will dynamically generate the XML sitemap each time it is requested by a search engine. It also means that there will not be an XML sitemap file on your server. This is optimal because it means that the XML sitemap is always up to date when it is requested, and there is no file that could get deleted or become corrupt or unreachable. Some older servers may not support this option so if you're having problems, try unchecking this box.

Update Sitemap

Finally, scroll to the top of the screen and click the Update Sitemap button. You have now created your XML sitemap. You can view it by clicking the XML sitemap link and your sitemap will open in a new tab. If you see a blank XML sitemap, don't panic, right click on screen and select View Page Source. You should now see the XML code for the sitemap.