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WordPress HTML Sitemap: What It Is, Why and How to Create It

A good User Experience (UX) can help you increase engagement on your website. An effective way to achieve this is by creating a WordPress HTML sitemap. However, if you’re unfamiliar with this feature, you might be wondering how to implement it on your site.

Fortunately, the process is easier than you might think! There’s no coding involved in creating a WordPress HTML sitemap and you can simply use a plugin to add it to your site. 😎

WordPress html sitemap.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at HTML sitemaps and how they work. Then, we’ll show you how to create one in WordPress. Let’s get started!

What are HTML sitemaps?

An HTML sitemap is a file that contains a list of all the pages on your website. Typically, this sitemap is located in the footer for easy access and facilitates smoother navigation across different pages.

Each item in the sitemap provides a link to its corresponding page:

A sitemap on the Canon website.
Image credit: Canon

By utilizing the sitemap, a user can quickly locate and access specific pages or categories on your website. This makes it easier for them to find what they’re looking for, which may in turn increase your site’s engagement rate and reduce your bounce rate.

It’s important to note that an HTML sitemap is different from an XML sitemap. The latter is designed for search engines such as Google and Bing to crawl and index your content more efficiently. It provides search engine bots with information about each URL on your site and the relationship between different pages.

Meanwhile, a WordPress HTML sitemap is made for human users rather than search bots. However, as we’ll see in the next section, it can still be beneficial for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Do you need an HTML sitemap?

Think of an HTML sitemap as a directory of pages on your site. It can help users locate a specific page under the relevant category.

Keep in mind though, not every site needs one. If you have a mostly static site with only a few pages, a simple menu in your header should be enough.

On the other hand, complex websites will likely benefit from an HTML sitemap in addition to menus. If you have a large number of pages, you might even consider creating an entire page for your sitemap:

An example of a WordPress HTML sitemap on CEO magazine.
Image credit: CEO Magazine

This is a popular option among online magazines with multiple categories and subcategories. Typically, you’ll find a link to the sitemap in the footer:

Sitemap link in footer.
Image credit: Scan Magazine

HTML sitemaps can even be useful for online shops. If you have a large catalog of products, you might want to list all your offerings, support channels, and other essential pages in your footer:

Sephora footer.
Image credit: Sephora

However, you may be wondering: are WordPress HTML sitemaps good for SEO?

While HTML sitemaps are not classified as a ranking factor by Google, they can help you improve your site’s user experience, which may show search engines that you offer valuable content. This could help boost your rankings in search results.

Plus, adding a WordPress HTML sitemap can be a good way to create more internal links on your site. This makes it easier for search engines to find and crawl your pages.

How to create a WordPress HTML sitemap

Now, let’s look at how to create a WordPress HTML sitemap. If you’re using an SEO plugin on your site, this feature may already be available. Therefore, you might not need to install another plugin to create the sitemap.

In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to add a WordPress HTML sitemap with the free version of Rank Math. Don’t worry if you’re using a different SEO plugin – we’ll also look at how to create a sitemap with a dedicated tool like Simple Sitemap.

Method 1: Using an SEO plugin like Rank Math 🔌

Rank Math is a powerful SEO plugin that offers a wealth of features for free. This includes an HTML sitemap, which you can generate in just a few clicks.

Step 1: Install Rank Math and enable the HTML sitemap

Start by installing and activating Rank Math on your site. Then, in your WordPress dashboard, go to Rank Math > Sitemap Settings and select the HTML Sitemap tab:

Enabling the WordPress HTML sitemap in Rank Math.

Use the toggle switch to enable the HTML sitemap. You’ll then see a list of options:

WordPress HTML Sitemap options.

For example, you can sort the items in the sitemap alphabetically, or by the date they were published or modified. You also have the option to show dates for each post and page, and choose between showing the page title or SEO title.

Step 2: Add the sitemap to your site

Rank Math enables you to add your sitemap to a page. If you prefer this method, simply select Page for Display Format, then use the dropdown menu to select the page you want to publish it on:

Selecting page as display format in Rank Math.

Alternatively, if you want to add the WordPress HTML sitemap to your footer, select the Shortcode option and copy the available code:

Copying the WordPress HTML sitemap in Rank Math.

The Site Editor makes it easy to edit templates like your footer. If you’re using a block-based theme, like Raft, go to Appearance > Editor in your WordPress dashboard:

The WordPress Site Editor.

Then, click on Template Parts and select Footer:

Selecting the footer in template parts.

To edit this template part, click on the pencil icon. This will open the footer in the Block Editor:

Editing the footer in the Site Editor.

Now, click on the plus sign to add a new block and select the Shortcode option:

Adding the shortcode block.

Paste in the shortcode you copied earlier and save your changes! You might want to preview your site on the frontend to see what the sitemap looks like to your users.

WordPress HTML sitemap on the front end.

In our example, the sitemap includes a list of all posts published on the site. If you want to remove this, go back to Sitemap Settings in Rank Math and select the Posts tab. Then, disable the option for Include in HTML Sitemap:

Excluding posts from sitemap in Rank Math.

You can do the same thing for categories, tags, products, and other types of content. Once you hit the Save Changes button, your sitemap will be updated.

As you can see, adding an HTML sitemap with Rank Math is very straightforward. However, if you’re using a different SEO plugin on your site, you might want to check if it offers this feature.

We advise against using more than one SEO plugin on your site, as it can mess up your settings and impact your rankings.

Method 2: Using a sitemap plugin like Simple Sitemap 🔌

Next, let’s look at a different tool you could use to create a WordPress HTML sitemap. If your current SEO plugin doesn’t offer the sitemap feature but you don’t want to install Rank Math, Simple Sitemap may be a good alternative.

Once you’ve installed and activated the plugin, open the page where you want to publish your sitemap. Then, use the search tool to look for your new “sitemap” blocks. As you can see, you have two options:

Adding the sitemap block in WordPress.

If you opt for Simple Sitemap Group, your items will be ordered by categories or tags. If you choose Simple Sitemap, they’ll be ordered by post type.

Once you make your selection, you can customize the sitemap with the available options. For example, you can order your items by date, name, and other attributes:

Editing the Simple Sitemap block.

Don’t worry if you’re unable to view the sitemap in the editor. If you preview the page on the frontend, you should be able to see it:

WordPress HTML sitemap on the front end.

If you want to add the sitemap to your footer, simply navigate to Editor > Template Parts (as shown earlier) and add the block there.

Simple Sitemap also comes with shortcodes that you can use instead of blocks. These can be quite handy if you want further customization options for your sitemaps. For example, you might want to exclude certain pages from your sitemap.

You can find these shortcodes under Sitemap > Settings:

Simple Sitemap shortcodes.

You’ll also find an extensive list of attributes that you can add to the basic shortcodes:

Shortcode attributes for the WordPress HTML sitemap.

Then, you can add these shortcodes to your preferred page or footer, using the Shortcode block (as shown earlier). Remember to save your changes when you’re done!

Conclusion 🧐

HTML sitemaps can help you provide a smoother user experience. They enable visitors to find what they’re looking for more quickly by listing every page and subpage on your site. This may lead to lower bounce rates, which could in turn improve your rankings in search results.

In this post, we looked at 🔎 two easy ways to create a WordPress HTML sitemap:

  1. Using an SEO plugin like Rank Math.
  2. Using a sitemap plugin like Simple Sitemap.

Do you have any questions about creating a WordPress HTML sitemap? Let us know in the comments section below!

Don’t forget to join our crash course on speeding up your WordPress site. Learn more below:

John Hughes

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