You may have heard the term “XML Sitemap” but not really understand what it is and why it is important for your WordPress site. According to Wikipedia, “A Sitemap is an XML file that lists the URLs for a site. It allows webmasters to include additional information about each URL: when it was last updated, how often it changes, and how important it is in relation to other URLs in the site.” This allows the search engines to crawl the sites more intelligently.
Web crawlers can already discover the pages on your site, but the XML sitemap gives them more information. The XML sitemap was first created in 2005 by Google. Yahoo, Bing and Ask.com also use the sitemap. Since Google was first, it is sometimes called a Google Sitemap or a Google XML Sitemap.
Fortunately for us, we do not need to know how to create a sitemap or read it. There is a WordPress plug-in called Google XML Sitemaps that will generate the sitemap for you. This plug-in will create a sitemap that makes it easier for the web crawlers to see the entire structure of your website. Also, the plug-in will automatically notify all the major search engines whenever you create a new blog post or new content on your site.
Your next question is probably where do I find my sitemap once I use the plug-in to generate it? Your sitemap is at <URL of Blog>/sitemap.xml. If you try to view this file, you really won’t be able to read it. If you are really curious about what your sitemap looks like, you can view it using a XML Viewer. I use an online viewer at http://xmlviewer.net to view my sitemap. Once you go to http://xmlviewer.net, you put in the URL of your sitemap. You would type <URL of Blog>/sitemap.xml. Now you can read your XML sitemap in an easy to read format.