As you probably already know, your on-page SEO is extremely important when it comes to your website’s positioning in the search results. Therefore, it’s crucial to mention that a proper sitemap is also a concerning and determining factor, which often gets overlooked. Without a sitemap in WordPress, or whatever else CMS you may be using, your website won’t show a clear organization system that affects internal SEO to Google.
What is a Sitemap?
Simply put, a sitemap is a document or file in XML format, which indicates the structure in which the different pages that constitute the website are distributed and organized, the degree of importance between them, as well as the frequency of how often the new pages are created and existing ones updated; all with the purpose of transmitting this information to Internet search engines as efficiently as possible so that they can easily understand how the site is constituted.
Which pages to index and which not to?
Keep in mind that you don’t have to index every single page of your website. Basically, you’re allowed not to show certain pages to Google, if that’s how you want it to be. These then won’t be shown as results in the search results. In this particular case, you should exclude these pages from your sitemap. Make sure to indicate in the source code the Meta tag “Robots” and use the “noindex” value as the content attribute.
The reasons why it might not be desirable for a certain page of the website to be indexed by the search engine are diverse and depend on the purpose for which they were created in the first place. For example, a page that shows personal data of the site owner, with the purpose of building trust with their customers, might not be convenient for indexing and displayed to the public when someone searches for a person with a same or similar name.
Another important detail is that if you want to block or deny the indexing of the entire website, WordPress offers an option within its configuration that can be accessed through the menu, in the settings panel; the page corresponds to “Reading” and there is a box that has the title “discourages search engines from indexing this site”. Checking this box prevents the indexing of the entire site; if you only want to prevent indexing for some pages specifically, then it can be done by directly placing the “noindex” tag in the code, as mentioned, or through plugins.
When it comes to the creation of sitemap in WordPress, the task is as simple as choosing one of the numerous plugins that take care of it; basically, you install it, activate it and configure it, which is very easy. There are plugins for SEO in general that, among other things, allow the creation of the sitemap, such as WordPress SEO by Yoast, SEO Ultimate and All In One SEO Pack, as well as other plugins strictly intended for the creation of this element, as is the case with Google XML Sitemaps. In any case, it’s usually sufficient to use the default configuration as the elements to be configured are very intuitive, such as the frequency of publication and the elements and categories to be indexed or not indexed.
Upload sitemap to Google
Finally, it’s useful to note that you can indicate directly to Google that you have a sitemap of your website. Make sure to create an account in Google Search Console for this bit; there you will find a special section for the sitemap in the menu, and to add yours, you must place the URL generated by the plugin that you have decided to use. This URL will be shown to you by the plugin itself in its configuration page, within the WordPress installation.