How to Create a Yoast Sitemap?

The Yoast SEO plugin has a fantastic feature: It can automatically generate an XML sitemap for your website, acting as a resume that tells search engines how to crawl and index your web pages. It’s like your website has its own map, guiding search engines to explore and rank it higher. Only you need to enable the XML sitemap functionality in Yoast SEO.

To enable the XML sitemap functionality in Yoast SEO, follow these steps:

  1. Install and activate the Yoast SEO plugin through the WordPress dashboard.
  2. Once activated, navigate to the “SEO” section in your WordPress dashboard’s sidebar.
  3. Click on the “General” tab, and then select the “Features” tab.
  4. Look for the “XML Sitemaps” option and toggle the switch to enable it.
  5. After enabling the XML sitemaps, click on the “Save Changes” button.

Congratulations! You have successfully enabled Yoast SEO’s XML sitemap feature. Yoast will now automatically generate an XML sitemap for your website based on your site’s content and settings.

Only we need to customize the automatically-generated sitemap by Yoast Plugin. In this post and video, you are going to learn how to customize your WordPress XML sitemap using Yoast.

What is an XML Sitemap?

Yes, you are correct. It is a list of pages on your website which you want the search engines to crawl and index. This informative guide shares important details such as the number of images on each page, when they were last updated, and how important they are. In a nutshell, an XML sitemap tells search engine crawlers, “Hey, follow this path and check out these awesome pages!

An XML sitemap generated by Yoast SEO looks like this:

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Unlike the user-friendly design of your website, an XML sitemap is more like a secret message to search engines. It’s not meant for human eyes, but it helps search engines understand and navigate your site better. It’s like a behind-the-scenes conversation that helps your website shine brighter in search results!

If you examine a sitemap created by Yoast, you’ll notice something interesting. It’s like a master index that contains multiple smaller sitemaps, each dedicated to a specific type of content. For example, there are separate sitemaps for posts, pages, categories, post tags, and authors. It’s like having different compartments to neatly organise all the URLs associated with each type of content!

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By clicking on any specific sitemap, you unlock a treasure trove of pages and URLs associated with that specific content type.

Navigating your website: what to Include /Exclude in your Sitemap!

Yoast SEO creates a sitemap automatically that shows Google all the important pages on your site. Now you need to customise it so that Google knows about the pages that you want people to find. And also the pages which you don’t want people to find.

Don’t Let These Pages Hurt Your SEO:

  • Pages that are not important: This includes pages that are rarely visited, pages that are outdated, and pages that are not relevant to your target audience.
  • Pages that are low-quality: This includes pages that have errors, pages that are poorly designed, and pages content with little to no added value for users.
  • Duplicate content – Content that appears at more than one URL.

What is your Yoast Sitemap URL?

How to create a Yoast Sitemap

The steps listed below will help you to customize it for your particular website. We’ll begin by selecting the sitemaps your XML sitemap index should include. Next, we’ll look at individual content within each sitemap.

  1. Open your XML sitemap in a separate browser tab while your WordPress website is logged in the other tab.
  2. Learn How Yoast Organizes Your Content Controls. In the left-hand menu of your WordPress website, hover over the Yoast SEO plugin, then click on “Settings“. 

The default setting is usually Yes – Yoast will show all of your content in search results. This is generally what you want, but you can change this setting to No- if you have a good reason.

Go through each content type listed and ask yourself if you want that type of content to appear in the search results. For most content types (like pages and posts), your answer should be Yes, unless those pages contain thin or duplicate content.

When you set a content type sitemap to No, Yoast will remove that entire sitemap and all associated URLs from your sitemap index. Yoast will also apply no-index robots to each piece of content in that sitemap, which will further ensure that search engines will not find or index them. Therefore, it is important to be absolutely sure that you do not want search engines to see any of that content before setting it to No.

Customize individual sitemaps

 Open your XML sitemap index and click on each individual sitemap so that it opens in a new tab. 

Evaluate each page in each sitemap and ask yourself if it will be beneficial to users. If you find pages that are of low value, such as /hello-world or /testing-123, open them in a new tab to evaluate them further. If they do not contain content that could be valuable to users, you should exclude them from your sitemap.

To exclude individual URLs from your XML sitemap, click on “Edit Page” at the top of each page or post you want to exclude.

In the page editor, scroll down to the Yoast SEO meta box. Click on the “Advanced Settings” gear icon and set “Allow search engines to show this Page in search results?” to “No.”

You can still allow search engines to follow the links on that page — even if it’s hidden — by leaving “Should search engines follow links on this Page?” set to “Yes.”

Leave this set to Yes unless there’s a reason you don’t want crawlers following the links that live on that page.

Finally, click “Update” in the top right corner of the page to save these settings. Repeat this process for each page you wish to exclude from each individual sitemap.

What's Next?

Nice work! You’ve customised your XML sitemap! Your final step is to submit this customized sitemap to Google via the Google Search Console.

Still have a question?

If you have more questions about this, feel free to reach out.

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Narendra Saurabh
Narendra Saurabh
10 months ago

Very nice information. The way to write this blog is amazing.

1 year ago

very nice blog

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