An XML sitemap lists a website’s pages while also providing a hierarchical view of your content. When set up correctly, an XML sitemap acts as a roadmap of your site – leading search engines to all your important pages.
An XML sitemap can provide search engines with information about each one of your posts, the date on which they were last updated, the images or videos used in them, and much more.
It’s very important to have an XML sitemap for your site, as it will help search engines (including Google, Bing, Yandex, and Baidu):
- understand your website’s structure;
- know about changes you make to your site’s structure quicker;
- navigate your website most efficiently ;
- easily find and crawl your most important pages;
- quickly reach your essential website pages (even if your internal linking is not flawless)
- discover your new or updated content faster.
Note that your website can have more than one sitemap (yes, you can have a sitemap for posts, a sitemap for pages, a sitemap for attachments, and more). Once we get into the settings Squirrly SEO offers for sitemaps, we will explain those and what they achieve.
In order to give you more control, Squirrly allows you to configure many sitemap settings. Note that you may not need to configure ALL the options Squirrly puts at your disposal.
But it surely does not hurt to know that if your site will require a specific configuration in the future, you have the option to set it up using Squirrly.
Access Sitemap XML
The Sitemap XML panel is located within the SEO Settings Section of Squirrly SEO. Navigate to Squirrly SEO > SEO Settings > Sitemap XML in order to reach it.
Not all sites update their content with the same frequency. For example, a business presentation site may update its content once a month, while a site that features news article are likely to update their content several times a week.
Most often than not, sites will typically update their content 1-3 times a week.
However, if you update your content more frequently than that, you have the option to select Every Day as your blogging frequency or even Every Hour if, for example, you have a news site that publishes new content every hour.
Think about how often you typically publish new posts and select the option that most accurately reflects your blogging frequency.
The option you choose here will impact how your Squirrly Sitemap XML is configured – to help search engines know what on your site gets updated more often – so that it can prioritize it (crawl your updated content as soon as possible).
Combine Languages in Sitemap for Multisite Plugins like Polylang
By default, different languages will be added to separate sitemap.xml files.
For instance, all posts in English will be added to one dedicated sitemap.xml file and all posts in Spanish will be added to another, separate sitemap.xml file.
However, you have the option to Combine Language in Sitemap (slide the toggle right to activate). When this option is turned ON, all languages will be added in the same sitemap.xml file.
Sitemap XML Post Types
Using Squirrly, you have the option to choose the post types for which you want Squirrly to build a sitemap – bringing you an incredible level of customization for the sitemap of your WordPress site.
How do you know which pages to include in your sitemap?
- Think about the RELEVANCE of a URL. Do you want visitors to reach that URL? Will it be useful to them if they do? If not, then maybe it should NOT be in your sitemap.
- What’s your site about? If you have a business site, then you most likely DON’T publish news articles. So it wouldn’t make sense for you to tell Squirrly to build a sitemap for Google News articles. If you have a photography site, then you should activate Attachments so that Squirrly will build a sitemap for all your photographs and other Media Folders, enabling search engines to reach them faster.
- If you don’t use a post type, there’s NO reason why you should activate the option for it. For example, if you don’t publish posts, there is NO reason why you should activate Posts from this section of Sitemap XML.
Whenever you want to activate a sitemap but are unsure whether you should actually do it or not, you can check to see if it’s RELEVANT to have that sitemap activated. Here’s how:
1. Activate the sitemap for the category you want (let’s say: Custom Taxonomies)
2. Go to https://your site/sq_feed=sitemap or https://your site/sitemap.xml (if you activated the user-friendly permalinks structure in Settings > Permalinks)
3. In your Squirrly SEO Sitemap Index (you can see an example of how that looks like below), you will view the sitemap created for Custom Taxonomies. Click on it.
4. If the file is EMPTY, it means that you don’t have any Custom Taxonomies on your site and therefore SHOULD deactivate the option Custom Taxonomies.
This way, you make sure Google won’t see empty sitemaps that are NOT relevant for your site.
Squirrly’s sitemap covers ALL post types that can exist in a WordPress site. There is NO post type that exists in WordPress for which Squirrly SEO can’t build a sitemap.
Squirrly doesn’t exclude pages on your site from the Sitemap unless you choose so by deactivating the creation of sitemap for certain post types.
Google News Sitemap
By default, this option is OFF.
However, if you have a news website, it’s important that you ACTIVATE this by sliding the toggle right so that Squirrly will build a sitemap for your news articles.
! Make sure you submit your website to Google News first.
WooCommerce Product Sitemap
With this setting, Squirrly allows you to enable or disable it to build a sitemap for your eCommerce products.
To include the Woocommerce Products Tags and Categories, switch on the option Custom Taxonomies.
Include Images in Sitemap
With this setting, you can enable or disable the inclusion of images in your sitemap.
When this is turned ON, Squirrly will add the image tag for each post with feature image.
Having this option tuned ON helps ensure that Google will index your images in Google Image Search.
Include Videos in Sitemap
With this setting, you can enable or disable the inclusion of videos in your sitemap.
When this is turned On, Squirrly will add the video tag for each post with embed video in it.
Ping New Posts to Search Engines
Pinging is a process by which Squirrly SEO can notify search engines that your sitemap has been updated. As long as you activate this option, we’ll make sure that Google and Bing get notified whenever you publish a new post so that they know there is new content to crawl and index.
By default, this option is OFF.
However, we recommend that you enable this feature if you want to help search engines discover your new content faster. (especially important if you have a News website)
To ensure better organization and prevent slow sitemap loading, every sitemap can be divided into multiple pages. (especially important if you have a very large website)
With this setting, you can control the maximum number of sitemap items per page.
Let’s take for example a sitemap for the Post Type: Pages. Say you have a total of 100 items (100 URLs) in your sitemap. If you were to select 10 as the maximum number of sitemap items per page, Squirrly will divide them across ten different pages (so that you’ll have 10 items on each page).
The default value for this setting is 100. This setting is important if you have a News site. If you have 100 new articles a day, then you should set this to 100 so that all items will be displayed on the same page.
Otherwise, you can set 10 as your Sitemap Pagination.
Submit Sitemap XML to Google Search Console
OK, so you’ve built your XML sitemap. What’s next? If you want Google to find your XML sitemap quicker, you’ll need to add it to your Google Search Console account.
Go to the ‘Sitemaps’ section, and you will immediately see if your XML sitemap is already added. In case it’s not, you can add your sitemap at the top of the page. (as shown in the example below)
Don’t forget to hit Submit, and you will be able to see all sitemaps which Squirrly has created for your site, as well as how many URLs are included in each sitemap.