How to Create A Sitemap In WordPress Without A Plugin?

20 minutes read

Creating a sitemap in WordPress without a plugin involves the following steps:

  1. Open your WordPress dashboard and go to Appearance > Editor.
  2. Locate the theme's functions.php file and click on it to open it.
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the file and add the following code:
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function my_sitemap() {

    echo '<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>';
    echo '<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9">';

    // Homepage
    echo '<url>';
    echo '<loc>' . get_home_url() . '</loc>';
    echo '<lastmod>' . date("Y-m-d\TH:i:s+00:00") . '</lastmod>';
    echo '<changefreq>daily</changefreq>';
    echo '<priority>1.0</priority>';
    echo '</url>';

    // Custom Post Types (replace 'custom_post_type' with your actual custom post type)
    $custom_posts = get_posts(array(
        'post_type' => 'custom_post_type',
        'numberposts' => -1,
        'post_status' => 'publish'
    ));
    foreach ($custom_posts as $post) {
        setup_postdata($post);
        echo '<url>';
        echo '<loc>' . get_permalink() . '</loc>';
        echo '<lastmod>' . get_the_modified_date("Y-m-d\TH:i:s+00:00") . '</lastmod>';
        echo '</url>';
    }

    // Blog posts
    $posts = get_posts(array(
        'post_type' => 'post',
        'numberposts' => -1,
        'post_status' => 'publish'
    ));
    foreach ($posts as $post) {
        setup_postdata($post);
        echo '<url>';
        echo '<loc>' . get_permalink() . '</loc>';
        echo '<lastmod>' . get_the_modified_date("Y-m-d\TH:i:s+00:00") . '</lastmod>';
        echo '</url>';
    }

    echo '</urlset>';
}

function add_sitemap_endpoint() {
    add_rewrite_rule('^sitemap.xml$', 'index.php?sitemap=1', 'top');
    add_rewrite_rule('^sitemap.xml.gz$', 'index.php?sitemap=1&gz=true', 'top');
    flush_rewrite_rules();
}

add_action('init', 'add_sitemap_endpoint');
add_action('template_redirect', 'generate_sitemap');

function generate_sitemap() {
    if (isset($_GET['sitemap'])) {
        if ($_GET['gz'] == 'true') {
            ob_start("ob_gzhandler");
        }
        header("Content-type: text/xml");
        echo '<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>';
        echo '<sitemapindex xmlns="https://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9">';
        echo '<sitemap>';
        echo '<loc>' . get_home_url() . '/sitemap.xml.gz</loc>';
        echo '<lastmod>' . date("Y-m-d\TH:i:s+00:00") . '</lastmod>';
        echo '</sitemap>';
        echo '</sitemapindex>';
        if ($_GET['gz'] == 'true') {
            ob_end_flush();
        }
        exit();
    }
}


  1. Save the changes to the functions.php file.


Now, you have successfully created a sitemap for your WordPress website without using any plugins. To access the sitemap, simply visit your website URL followed by "/sitemap.xml", for example, "https://www.yourwebsite.com/sitemap.xml". This will display the generated sitemap for search engines to crawl and index your website's content.

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What is the purpose of a sitemap?

The purpose of a sitemap is to provide a hierarchical structure or map of all the pages and content on a website. It helps search engines and website visitors navigate and understand the layout of a website, ensuring that all pages are properly indexed and easily accessible. Sitemaps also allow website administrators to communicate important information about each page, such as its priority, frequency of updates, and the date it was last modified. This helps search engines crawl and index the website more efficiently, improving its visibility and search engine rankings.


What are the different components or elements in a WordPress sitemap?

A WordPress sitemap typically consists of the following components or elements:

  1. Pages: This includes all the individual pages on your WordPress website, such as home page, about page, contact page, etc.
  2. Posts: It includes all the blog posts that you have published on your WordPress site.
  3. Categories: Categories are used to group similar blog posts together. They are usually displayed in the form of a list or a dropdown menu on the website.
  4. Tags: Tags are similar to categories but they represent more specific keywords or topics related to a blog post. They can also be displayed as a list or a cloud on the website.
  5. Custom Post Types: If you have any custom post types on your WordPress website, such as portfolio items or testimonials, they can be included in the sitemap.
  6. Taxonomies: Taxonomies refer to the way you organize content on your site, like tags and categories. They can be included in the sitemap to help search engines understand the structure of your website better.
  7. Archives: Archive pages are used to display a collection of posts based on specific criteria, such as monthly archives or author archives. These pages can also be included in the sitemap.
  8. Author Pages: If you have multiple authors on your WordPress site, author pages can be included in the sitemap to showcase individual author's posts and information.
  9. Pagination: If your WordPress site has pagination, where content is split across multiple pages, each page can be included in the sitemap.
  10. Media: Images and media files attached to your WordPress posts and pages can also be included in the sitemap to help search engines index them.


Note: The specific elements included in a WordPress sitemap may vary depending on the sitemap plugin or tool you are using and its configuration settings.


How should I structure the URLs in my WordPress sitemap?

When structuring the URLs in your WordPress sitemap, it's essential to follow a logical and organized approach. Here are some guidelines to consider:

  1. Use an XML Sitemap Plugin: Install a reliable XML sitemap plugin like Yoast SEO or Google XML Sitemaps. These plugins will generate a sitemap automatically and update it whenever new content is added.
  2. Include Important Pages: Ensure that your sitemap includes all critical pages of your website, such as homepage, blog posts, product pages, and important landing pages. These pages should be easy to find and navigate.
  3. Categorize Content: If your website has different categories or sections, arrange similar content under relevant headings. For example, if you have a blog, classify posts by topics or tags.
  4. Prioritize Pages: Assign a priority value to each URL in the sitemap. This tells search engines which pages are more important or have higher priority. Prioritize your most critical pages by assigning a higher value (e.g., homepage, main category pages).
  5. Set Frequency of Updates: Indicate how frequently each URL is likely to change. This information helps search engines understand how often to revisit specific pages. Use "always," "hourly," "daily," "weekly," "monthly," "yearly," or "never" to define the update frequency.
  6. Define Last Modification Date: Specify the last modified date for each URL. This helps search engines understand when a specific page was last updated and determine how often to re-index it.
  7. Exclude Unnecessary Pages: Exclude pages that you don't want to appear in the search results or indexed by search engines. These might include login pages, thank you pages, or duplicates.
  8. Create a Sitemap Index: If your website is extensive or spans multiple subdomains, consider creating a sitemap index. It acts as a container for multiple sitemaps, making it easier for search engines to crawl and understand your site structure.
  9. Submit Sitemap to Search Engines: Finally, submit your XML sitemap to search engines like Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. This ensures that search engines are aware of your sitemap and can crawl your pages more efficiently.


Remember to periodically update your sitemap as you add new content, remove old pages, or modify existing ones.

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What are the benefits of creating a sitemap manually instead of using a plugin?

Creating a sitemap manually instead of using a plugin has several benefits:

  1. Customization: When creating a sitemap manually, you have complete control over the structure and content of the sitemap. You can prioritize specific pages, exclude certain pages, or add additional information that may not be possible with a plugin-generated sitemap.
  2. Efficiency: In some cases, using a sitemap plugin can slow down your website as it needs to dynamically generate the sitemap on every request. By creating a sitemap manually, you eliminate this overhead, resulting in faster loading times for your website.
  3. Reduced dependencies: Using a plugin means relying on third-party code and updates. Manually creating a sitemap reduces your dependencies on external plugins and ensures that your sitemap remains functional even if the plugin becomes outdated or unsupported.
  4. Learning and understanding: Creating a sitemap manually allows you to gain a better understanding of how sitemaps work. You can learn about XML syntax, explore different options for indexing and crawling, and develop a deeper understanding of your website's structure and organization.
  5. Flexibility: Plugins may limit the inclusion of certain pages or restrict the customization options available. Creating a sitemap manually gives you the flexibility to include all the pages you want, regardless of their type or location within your website.
  6. SEO optimization: Manual creation allows you to optimize the sitemap for search engines by providing more detailed information, such as the last modification date, priority, and frequency of updates for each page. This can help search engines understand your website better and improve its visibility in search results.
  7. Hands-on control: By manually creating the sitemap, you have direct control over ensuring that all important pages are included, relevant metadata is provided, and any changes to the site's structure or content are promptly reflected in the sitemap.


It's important to note that while manual creation offers these benefits, it may require more time and technical expertise compared to using a plugin. Therefore, the choice between manual creation and plugin usage depends on your specific needs, resources, and level of comfort with the technical aspects involved.


Why is it important to have a sitemap on a WordPress website?

Having a sitemap on a WordPress website is important for several reasons:

  1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): A sitemap helps search engines understand the structure and organization of a website. It lists all the pages and posts, ensuring that search engines can easily crawl and index them, improving the website's visibility in search engine result pages.
  2. Improved Navigation: A sitemap acts as a roadmap for users, making it easier for them to navigate through the website. It provides a concise outline of the website's structure, helping visitors find the desired content quickly.
  3. Content Updates: Whenever a new page or post is added, or existing content is updated, the sitemap is automatically updated. This allows search engines to recognize the changes and index the new content faster.
  4. Priority and Frequency: Within a sitemap, you can specify the priority and frequency of content updates. This provides search engines with valuable information about the importance and frequency of content changes, potentially improving your site's visibility.
  5. Supporting Large Websites: For websites with a large number of pages, a sitemap becomes essential. It helps search engines locate and crawl all the pages efficiently, ensuring that no content goes unnoticed.
  6. Mobile Website Optimization: With the increasing use of mobile devices, having a responsive and mobile-friendly website is crucial. By including a sitemap, you assist search engines in properly indexing and optimizing your content for mobile searches.


Overall, having a sitemap on a WordPress website enhances search engine visibility, improves user experience, and assists in the effective indexing of content, leading to better overall performance.


How long does it take for search engines to crawl and index a WordPress sitemap?

The time taken for search engines to crawl and index a WordPress sitemap can vary depending on several factors, including the size of the website, the frequency of content updates, the website's domain authority, and the search engine's crawling algorithm. Generally, search engines like Google aim to crawl and index new content within a few days or weeks. However, it is important to note that indexing does not guarantee immediate ranking or visibility in search results. It is recommended to submit the sitemap to search engines through their respective webmaster tools, which can help expedite the crawling and indexing process.


Can I generate a sitemap for my WordPress site using a theme or template?

Yes, you can generate a sitemap for your WordPress site using a theme or template. Many WordPress themes and templates come with built-in sitemap functionality or offer compatibility with popular SEO plugins that can generate sitemaps. Some themes may even include specific options and settings to customize the sitemap generation process. Additionally, there are several WordPress plugins available, such as Yoast SEO and Google XML Sitemaps, that can help you generate and manage your site's sitemap easily.


Are there different types of sitemaps in WordPress?

Yes, there are different types of sitemaps in WordPress.

  1. XML Sitemap: This is the most common type of sitemap used in WordPress. It is an XML file that lists all the URLs of your website, helping search engines like Google to discover and index your content.
  2. HTML Sitemap: This type of sitemap is created for visitors to your website. It is a navigational page that lists all the important pages or posts on your site, helping users find relevant content easily.
  3. Image Sitemap: If your website has a lot of images, you can create an image sitemap. It is an XML file that provides search engines with information about the images on your website, such as their location, captions, and descriptions.
  4. Video Sitemap: Similar to an image sitemap, a video sitemap is an XML file that provides search engines with information about the videos on your website. It includes details like the video title, description, duration, thumbnail URL, and more.


Note that XML sitemaps are generally the most important for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes, as they help search engines crawl and index your website effectively. However, HTML, image, and video sitemaps can also be beneficial for user experience and for enhancing the visibility of your media content.


What are the alternative methods for creating a sitemap in WordPress?

There are several alternative methods for creating a sitemap in WordPress:

  1. Using a WordPress SEO Plugin: Many SEO plugins, such as Yoast SEO and All in One SEO Pack, provide an option to generate a sitemap. These plugins automatically create and update the sitemap for you.
  2. Manually Creating a Sitemap XML File: If you prefer more control, you can manually create a sitemap XML file using a text editor or XML generator tools. You can then upload this file to your WordPress website using FTP or a file manager plugin.
  3. Utilizing a Dedicated Sitemap Plugin: There are plugins available specifically for generating sitemaps, such as Google XML Sitemaps. These plugins help you generate and customize your sitemap, and they often offer additional features like notifying search engines when your sitemap is updated.
  4. Using Online Sitemap Generators: There are various online sitemap generator tools that crawl your website and generate a sitemap for you. These tools usually provide options for customizing the sitemap before downloading it for use in WordPress.
  5. Manually Coding a Sitemap: For advanced users, manually coding a sitemap using XML markup is an option. This involves creating a sitemap.xml file and adding URLs manually. This method requires technical knowledge and regular updates as your website changes.


Note: It is recommended to choose one method and stick to it, as multiple sitemaps can cause confusion for search engines.

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