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What is a Sitemap?
An XML sitemap is a list of all your content that search engines use when they crawl your site. This is an essential part of SEO because it contains some important pieces of information that search engines need when crawling your site.
The XML Sitemap created by All in One SEO tells search engines where to find all of the content on your site and it tells them about all your images.
NOTE: XML Sitemaps in All in One SEO Pack only work with pretty permalinks. They do not work with the Plain permalink setting.
The Sitemap Overview box lists the links for each sitemap on your site. For example, if you have the Google News Sitemap feature enabled in Pro, then you’ll see the links for your XML Sitemap and your Video Sitemap here.
Select the schedule you’d like to ping Google and Bing about your sitemap. Google recommends setting this to match the frequency by which you add or update content on your site.
NOTE: All in One SEO Pack automatically notifies Google and Bing whenever you publish, update or delete content on your site.
Enable Sitemap Indexes
We strongly recommend activating the Enable Sitemap Indexes option, especially if you have a large site or a site with lots of images. This will reduce the amount of memory required to create your sitemap and speed up dynamic sitemap generation when your sitemap is requested by a search engine.
Maximum Posts Per Sitemap Page
All in One SEO Pack lets you set the maximum number of URLs per sitemap. This option will show after you check the Enable Sitemap Indexes box. By default it is set to 1000 URLs per sitemap.
We strongly recommend setting this to no more that 1000 in order to reduce the amount of memory used to generate the sitemap and to avoid any timeout problems when search engines try to crawl your sitemap.
NOTE: Users can lower this number if they are experiencing memory issues, usually indicated by a blank screen when viewing the sitemap. This setting should never be set to more than 50,000 URLs per sitemap.
Post Types and Taxonomies
The Post Types and Taxonomies sections allow you control over which content is included in your Sitemap. All boxes will be checked by default. If you are using Sitemap Indexes a file will be created for each Post Type and Taxonomy that is checked. If you aren’t using a certain Post Type or Taxonomy, that file will by empty in your Sitemap so it is important to only check the Post Types and Taxonomies that exist on your site when using Sitemap Indexes.
Include Date Archive Pages/Include Author Pages
Include Date Archive Pages and Include Author Pages are both left unchecked in an effort to avoid duplicate content warnings from Google. This is mainly a legacy setting as Google is now smart enough to understand how WordPress works and that content is archived and included on author pages. It is up to you whether to check this or not, if you do check it and receive a duplicate content warning then you can simply change the setting and notify Google of the changes.
Remember: Just because you don’t include the content in your Sitemap does not mean Google will find it and index it. If you link to content on your site then search engines will crawl it by following those links, so use All in One SEO Pack to control what content is indexed by using the NOINDEX Settings.
By default, All in One SEO Pack includes images in the XML Sitemap to comply with search engines such as Google that want images submitted to them for indexing in Google Images.
Some users may not wish to include images. For instance, Yandex does not support images inside a sitemap. Enable this option if you want to exclude images from your XML Sitemap. Alternatively, you can use our API filter hook to exclude images from All in One SEO Pack.
Dynamically Generate Sitemap
If you activate this setting your Sitemap will be generated dynamically each time a search robot requests it rather than creating a static file which can be deleted, become stale, corrupt or be overwritten. The Sitemap that All in One SEO Pack will generate is always up-to-date with the most current version of your site, you don’t need to manually update your Sitemap if you have this setting checked.
Create RSS Sitemap
This option will generate a separate RSS sitemap which can be submitted to Google, Bing and any other search engines that support this type of sitemap. The RSS sitemap contains an RSS feed of the latest updates to your site content. It is not a full sitemap of all your content. You can find more information about RSS sitemaps on Google’s Blog here.
Google News Sitemap Post Types
To learn about the Google News Sitemap feature in All in One SEO Pack Pro, please refer to the documentation here.
You can use this section to add any URLs to your Sitemap which aren’t a part of your WordPress installation. For example, if you have a contact form that you would like to be included on your Sitemap you can enter the information manually.
Once you click Add URL it will show both in the Additional Pages box and in your Sitemap.
NOTE: The Page URL field will only accept an absolute URL with protocol, i.e. http://domain.com/contact/
The Excluded Terms field allows you to exclude any category, tag or custom taxonomy from the XML sitemap. Start typing the name of a category, tag or taxonomy term in the field and a drop down will populate with the matching terms for you to select from.
NOTE: This will also exclude any content belonging to the specified term. For example, if you exclude the Uncategorized category then all posts in that category will also be excluded from the sitemap.
The Excluded Pages field allows you to exclude any page, post or custom post type from the XML sitemap. To exclude a page, post or custom post type just enter the slug or ID of each item separated by a comma. For example, “store, cart, checkout” would exclude these three pages from your Sitemap.
Remember: Just because you don’t include the content in your Sitemap does not mean search engines will find it and index it. If you link to content on your site then search engines will crawl it by following those links, so use All in One SEO Pack to control what content is not indexed by using the NOINDEX Settings.
Priorities and Frequencies
If you click the ‘view your sitemap’ link at the top of the XML Sitemaps page in All in One SEO Pack you can see the Priority and Change Frequency columns on your Sitemap along with the current value for each URL. Values for both of these settings are generated based on the last modified date of the URL. So, something that changed yesterday would have a Frequency value of daily and the Priority value would most likely be around .9 (90%) depending on the rest of your site. The default settings for these in All in One SEO Pack are all Do Not Override, and if you have the Dynamically Generate Sitemap setting checked (which it is by default) then the Priorities and Frequencies will update as the Sitemap changes.
The Priority is the priority of the URL relative to the other URLs on your site. The homepage has top priority for search robots and is therefore set to 100%. The percentage value you give for each URL tells crawlers how important you feel a certain URL is. This setting is only used within your site so giving all of your URLs a high priority won’t affect how your site ranks against other sites, it only tells crawlers how URLs relate on your own site.
You can override the priority for a specific post in any post type, or a specific term in any taxonomy by using the Sitemap Priority drop down. This is a feature of the paid version of All in One SEO Pack.
The Frequency is how frequently a page is likely to change. This provides guidance to search robots on how often they should recrawl a URL. This does not control how often search robots crawl your site, you cannot control this, search engines determine when they will crawl your site. These settings (hourly, daily, etc) are just suggestions to search robots. They will take note of the setting and may follow it, but they can crawl at whatever frequency they want.
You can override the frequency for a specific post in any post type, or a specific term in any taxonomy by using the Sitemap Frequency drop down. This is a feature of the paid version of All in One SEO Pack.
Controlling Priorities and Frequencies for Individual Post Types and Taxonomies
You can control both the Priorities and Frequencies for each Post Type and each Taxonomy on your site. To do this select the “Select Individual” choice from the Posts and/or Taxonomies dropdown under Priorities and Frequencies. Selecting this option will display a dropdown box for each Post Type and for each Taxonomy. You can then set the priority of frequency for each Post Type or Taxonomy.
If you’d like to learn more about the way search engines treat the Priority and Frequency settings of a Sitemap, or want to learn more about XML Sitemaps please refer to the official documentation on the protocol at Sitemaps.org.