Looking for Guidance on Using Sitemaps with WordPress
 by Kristi Hagen

Looking for Guidance on Using Sitemaps with WordPress

  • Many of my WordPress clients use the system to automatically create Sitemaps for Google, which tends to produce numerous Sitemaps. Many of which are dubious and may even harm the site by leading Google to 'look' in worthless areas (e.g. 'post_tag-sitemap.xml').

    Can you provide some guidance as to how best to use Sitemaps with WordPress and what areas, like perhaps, 'tags' and 'categories' should not have a sitemap created, and possibly should be barred using the robots.txt file?

Answer:

We use the Yoast SEO plugin to turn off the sitemaps for areas we don't want indexed, such as tags and sometimes categories. We also normally turn them off for specialty posts that some plugins create such as ecommerce checkout systems, event venue pages, etc. Yoast typically allows you to turn off those specific types of posts in sitemaps, and set them to meta noindex as well.

The hardest decision really is to noindex or turn sitemaps off for category archives; quite often sites can turn these off with no issues.

However, some sites that can create specialty category landing pages with descriptions (part of some templates) can benefit by having categories indexed. This is often a case-by-case situation. If it's a high traffic, popular block, we'd say investigate leaving those open to indexing IF you can create category pages with unique content (above the posts). If it's low traffic, or if you don't have the ability to create unique category pages in your template, we'd leave them set to noindex and turn the sitemap off.

We don't recommend using robots.txt in most situations to block spidering for normal WordPress functions. If you block spidering with Robots.txt you won't get any link juice for sections you block. However, if you use meta noindex, you'll still get credit for links to those sections. For an in-depth look at Sitemaps see our article, Your Ultimate Guide to XML Sitemaps: Why They Matter & How to Manage ...

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