What Is A Sitemap?
A sitemap is a special web page, usually saved in HTML or XML format. A sitemap, like an index, lists all the pages and related information, for example, created date and updated date. It helps crawlers of search engines easily understand the structure, scale, and updating frequency of websites. As a result, creating a sitemap is a basic task to increase SEO.
Supposing you have a new website and want to submit a sitemap to search engines immediately, you can do it manually. For example, create a domain in Google Search Console and enter the sitemap link as the image below.
If you want to research a competitor, a sitemap also helps. Most websites add the sitemap link to their footer. Just scroll down to the bottom and find it. Another way is trying to access the page “domain.com/sitemap.xml“.
Sitemap of WordPress
In the ecosystem of WordPress, tons of plugins are available to create sitemaps. Some renowned plugins, like Yoast SEO and Google XML Sitemaps, have great reviews and provide detailed settings, though I seldom think I need them. Plugins usually save the sitemap in “domain.com/sitemap.xml“.
Since version 5.8, WordPress has a built-in sitemap. The default path is “domain.com/wp-sitemap.xml”. After the new version was released, I uninstalled the sitemap plugin without hesitation. With fewer plugins, websites can speed up to provide a better user experience. This is my core value in website management.
Unfortunately, I dismissed that WordPress won’t submit sitemaps automatically. It definitely hurt my SEO. The traffic to my website dropped in the next weeks after uninstalling the sitemap plugin.
After realizing the root cause, I had two options to fix it. The first one is to have an automation process to submit the built-in sitemap. Maybe I can find a plugin to achieve it. The second option is to disable the built-in sitemap and reinstall a sitemap plugin to create a new sitemap. Having two sitemaps won’t improve SEO, so it is essential to make a decision.
In fact, the easiest solution is simpler than I can imagine. If you have ever used an SEO plugin like Google XML Sitemaps, one setting called “Override the file name of the sitemap” can solve the problem perfectly. Finally, I decided to keep the default page “/wp-sitemap” but override it with the plugin. After struggling for several months, my sitemap can be automatically submitted again!
Last but not least, if you create a new sitemap, you can log in to Google Search Console and remove the old one. That’s it.