Next time you are browsing a website you know has been built by WordPress, scroll to the bottom and see if you find a link titled ‘site map’. If you find it, click on it and see what happens. You should get a page with an extensive amount of data detailing the entire structure of the site in question. This is what is known as an XML site map; every WordPress website should have one if owners are interested in making their sites search engine friendly.
An XML site map is essentially a road map that tells the search engine spiders how your site is structured and the best way to index it. Once a search engine has that data, future crawls by the search engine spider results in more efficient indexing, which, in turn, results in more search clarity and better page rankings.
Think of an XML site map as similar to a cross-linked directory of your family tree. Imagine every name in your tree being linked to relevant data throughout the document. Those links would make it very easy to search all of the available data for whatever purpose you desire. That is what the XML site map does for your WordPress website.
Creating XML Site Map
You can create an XML site map manually if you know the code and you have the patience. But why bother? As with almost everything else in WordPress, the task can be accomplished simply by installing and using a dedicated plugin. For this purpose, one of your best choices is the Google XML Sitemaps plugin from Arne Brachhold. You can search for this plugin from the administrative panel or by going directly to the WordPress site.
Creating a site map with this plugin is as easy as downloading it, installing it, and activating it. The plugin will do all of the work for you. It will generate a site map compliant with Google, Yahoo!, Ask.com and Live standards. It supports all WordPress content including text, graphics, multimedia, and apps.
Google XML Sitemaps is consistently rated among the best plugins for WordPress. It lets users create compliant XML site maps without any knowledge of code or taxonomies. It also provides for customization and different language options. Most importantly, every time your website is updated the plugin notifies the major search engines through a standard ping. You will not have to wait until the next round of crawling for your website to be up-to-date with Google and the rest.
Depending on the template or theme you use for your WordPress site, you may end up with a site map link on your top or bottom menu. If you do not see such a link, just point your web browser to yourdomainname/site map.XML. Your new site map should come up instantly.
One last note, the plugin is free to use, as it has been since it was first introduced nine years ago. The author does appreciate donations to keep his work going. You can learn more about the plugin by following the plugin website link embedded in the WordPress description.