You might have heard of terms like XML Sitemaps while reading about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). An XML Sitemap, or simply, Sitemap, is a file that lists the content of your website in an XML format, so search engines like Google can easily index your content. Similar to the robots.txt file of your website, a Sitemap also helps Google and other search engines easily crawl your website by giving them a map of your site’s content.
A Sitemap usually contains some helpful metadata like:
- Raw URLs of the pages on your site.
- Information on when a particular page was last modified.
- Images on a particular URL of the site.
Below is a screenshot of how a Sitemap looks like for your reference.
Now that we know what Sitemaps are let us understand how they are beneficial for our website.
How does adding a Sitemap improve your WordPress website?
If you add a Sitemap to your website, it will help the search engines crawl your website easily. Below mentioned are some of the other ways in which a sitemap improves your WordPress website:
- Using Sitemaps, you can ask Google to crawl certain pages on priority by adding respective metadata to that pages.
- Although Google crawls your website even if you do not have a sitemap, having a Sitemap helps search engine bots to crawl content faster than they would if you do not have a sitemap. This results in faster indexing of your site’s pages on Google.
- If you add your sitemap to Google Search Console, then you can use the console to find out how effective you’re at indexing your site’s pages with the help of analytics provided by the search console.
- According to Google Search Central, if your site uses a lot of media files (videos, images), then Google can take additional information from sitemaps into account for search, where appropriate. This may include the type of image, subject matter of image, image licensing details, etc.
These were some benefits of adding a Sitemap to your WordPress site. Now, a question arises how can you determine if you need a Sitemap for your website?
Do you need a Sitemap?
Do I need a Sitemap for my website? – Many people ask this question, so let’s try to answer it as clearly as we can.
Cases in which having a Sitemap helps your website
- When you’ve launched a new website, and it has very few external links, then, in that case, having a sitemap is really beneficial. The reason behind this, as quoted by Google Search Central, is, that “Googlebot and other web crawlers crawl the web by following links from one page to another. As a result, Google might not discover your pages if no other sites link to them”.
- If your website has a large amount of media content, then having a sitemap can be really beneficial because if Google or any other search engine needs any additional information regarding any media items (images, videos), then it can be fetched from the sitemaps.
- If your site has a large number of pages, it can sometimes result in Google search crawlers overlooking some recently added or updated pages on the site. Having a Sitemap makes sure that all the pages are crawled by the search engines.
- If your website has a large number of pages that are not interlinked well with each other, then it is possible that Google or other search crawlers might overlook them. In order to avoid such a situation, it is better to use a Sitemap.
Now that we have gone through the cases where having a sitemap helps let us also go through the other aspect where having a Sitemap is not that important.
Cases in which you might not need a Sitemap
- The pages on your site are interlinked thoroughly in such a way that Google can easily get to other pages of your site by following the links on the homepage.
- Your site does not consist of any media files that you want to be displayed in Google search results. As we know, Sitemaps can fetch information regarding media files in order to display them in search results, so if there are no media files to be displayed in search results, then there’s no need for a sitemap.
Till now, we have covered what an XML Sitemap is, the benefits of having a Sitemap on your website, and cases in which you might need/not need a Sitemap.
Now, suppose that you have already added a Sitemap to your site and then understood that you might not need a Sitemap. So, a natural question that arises here is, does a Sitemap have any negative effect on your site? We’ll try to answer this question in the next section!
Does a Sitemap have any negative effect on your site?
No! Having a Sitemap will never have any negative effect on your site. The worst thing that can happen is that you won’t see any positive results after adding a sitemap. As quoted by Google, “in most cases, your site will benefit from having a sitemap, and you’ll never be penalized for having one.”
Now that we know about XML Sitemaps in detail let’s see how we can create one for our Elementor site using PowerPack Elementor’s Sitemap widget.
Create a Sitemap using PowerPack Elementor’s Sitemap Widget
We have also created a short to-the-point video that explains in detail how you can create a Sitemap using PowerPack Elementor’s Sitemap widget. So, in case you like the video explanation, I suggest you have a look at it.
Now, let’s continue. To create the Sitemap, we will be using these two plugins:
Once you’ve installed and activated these plugins, you would have to create a new page by heading over to your WordPress Dashboard > Pages > Add New. Name the page as “Sitemap”.
Next, click on “Edit with Elementor” to open the page in Elementor Page Builder.
Launch Elementor Editor
As soon as you click on “Edit with Elementor,” the Elementor editor will open up. Next, drag and drop the Sitemap widget in the Elementor editor. As soon as you add the Sitemap widget, you’ll see the list of pages in a column along with the list of categories on your site appear in another column with default settings.
The below screenshot shows how your page would look like after adding the Sitemap widget.
Now that we have added PowerPack’s Sitemap widget to the page, we will make some customizations and styling in the Elementor editor’s content and style tab.
PowerPack Elementor’s Sitemap Widget Customization in Content Tab
As we can see in the screenshot above, the content tab of the Sitemap widget gives us the option to display the links on our site as per our requirements.
First, we can choose the Type of Sitemap that we want to display on our site. We can choose between “Post Type” and “Taxonomy.” For our example here, we’ve chosen the type as “Post Type.”
Next, we have to choose the Source of Taxonomy. Since I wanted to show all my products on the Sitemap, I have chosen Source as “Products.” You can choose any source from the list.
The next option is “Exclude Products.” It allows you to exclude any product from the sitemap. Going further, you can change the Title of the section that displays the taxonomy. The default title was “Pages.” However, we have changed it to “Products,“ as you can see in the screenshot above.
Finally, you can order the Taxonomy in Ascending or Descending order. You can order the Taxonomy by Date, Title, Menu Order, or Random by using the “Order By” option of the Sitemap widget.
Another option in the Content tab is “Hierarchical View.” To see how this functions, we’ve added another item in our Sitemap named “Product Categories.” As you can see in the below screenshot, we’ve chosen “Type” as “Taxonomy” and “Source” as “Product Categories.” We have also enabled the Hierarchical View as you can see in the screenshot below.
Here, “Product Categories” have a hierarchy of categories and subcategories, so you can use this option to display the categories in Hierarchical order. You can also choose the depth of the Hierarchy that you want to display in your Sitemap.
Some other options in the Content tab of the PowerPack Elementor’s Content tab are:
- Columns: You can choose to display your sitemap in any number of columns as you wish. In our example, we have chosen columns as “4” (as visible in the above screenshot). However, we only have 2 items to display (Products and Product Categories), so our sitemap is spread across two columns.
- Title HTML Tag: Here, you can choose the heading tag for the title of the items in your sitemap. We’ve chosen this as H2.
- Add nofollow: If you enable this option, then the links in your sitemap will have a “nofollow” tag added to them. The “nofollow” tag tells the Search Engines to ignore the links and not let them affect the search engine rankings.
- Open in a New Window: As the name suggests, if you enable this, then all the links in your sitemap will open in a new window.
As we go down in the Content tab, another section is “Tree Structure”. Tree Structure has the option to enable or disable the “Tree Layout.” A thing to note here is Hierarchical View option must be enabled for Post Type or Taxonomy for Tree Layout to work.
As you can see in the screenshot above, once we enabled the Tree Structure, the “Product Categories” sitemap turned into a tree and branch-like structure. If we click on the “+” icon in the Product Categories, the subcategories of the parent category will open up. Have a look at the screenshot below to understand how branching of subcategories is done once the Tree Structure option is enabled.
This was all about the Content tab of the PowerPack Elementor’s Sitemap widget. Now, let’s head over to the Style tab and style our Sitemap widget.
PowerPack Elementor’s Sitemap Widget Styling in the Style Tab
As you can see in the screenshot above, the Sitemap widget consists of 3 sections in the style tab:
- List Items
Let us go through each of the sections one by one.
List: As the name suggests, using this option, we can style the overall list of the Sitemaps on the page. We can change the indent of the list, add a background color to the list, apply border properties, and add padding to the list. As you can see in the screenshot below, we have applied an indent of 10 to our list.
Title: This is the next option in the Style tab. We can use this option to style the title of the Sitemap items. Through this option, we can change the alignment, background color, text color, apply border properties, add margins and padding to the titles, and change the typography of the Title.
The above screenshot shows the styling that we have applied to the title. We’ve chosen the left alignment and applied a background color and text color to the title. We have also added margin and padding to the title and have changed the default typography.
List Items: As the name suggests, this option can be used to style the list items in the sitemap. We can change the background color, text, and hover color of the items and typography and apply padding to the list of items in the sitemap. Have a look at the screenshot below to see how our sitemap looks like after applying the styling changes.
This was all about the Style tab of the Elementor Editor for PowerPack Elementor’s Sitemap widget.
Wrapping it Up!
In the above steps, we have customized and styled our Sitemap page to have a stylish look and elegant feel. We have used a combination of customizations such as Hierarchical view and Tree view and styling options such as typography, background colors, and hover colors to achieve this look. You can check the options that we used in the above screenshots.
Check out our Sitemap page build with PowerPack Elementor’s Sitemap Widget below!
I am sure, with the help of this tutorial, you would have been able to easily set up the Sitemap page of your website.
You can do a lot more with the PowerPack Addons for Elementor. There are more than 70 creative widgets that you can use to customize your Elementor pages. If you wish to learn more about the PowerPack Addons for Elementor, check here.
What are your thoughts on this tutorial? Do share if you found this guide useful!