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In this knowledge base tutorial, we are going to learn about the option to configure Sitemap settings in Rank Math.

The sitemap is one of the most important pieces in your website’s SEO puzzle as it helps search engines navigate your website most efficiently by offering a hierarchical view of your content.

Before we get into the specific settings about sitemaps in Rank Math, it’s wise to understand what sitemaps really are, and what they can do for your website.

What is a Sitemap?

As we mentioned, a sitemap is an index of all the content on your website which helps search engines easily discover your content.

But you might think – do I really need a sitemap? Can’t Google just go through my website and index what it finds.

It can, but it’s not efficient, and it doesn’t give you any control. Also, posts that are buried deep inside your site may never be indexed by search engines – no matter how important that page is.

With a sitemap, you can be sure that Google and other search engines will know about all the content on your website, whether they index it or not.

Also, sitemaps give you the ability to prioritize your pages. That’s like saying to the search engines, “Hey, this page is important, index it first”. Google uses priority as a guide, not as a rule, so it might or might not work. But surely it sends a strong message what content you want to be indexed first.

That’s a good basic understanding of Sitemaps and what they do. Let’s get into Rank Math’s sitemap settings.

To reach the sitemap settings, hover over Rank Math’s menu entry in the WordPress menu, then click the Sitemap Settings option in the sub-menu that appears.

Sitemaps-Rank-Math

Rank Math’s Sitemap settings will open up. You’ll notice that the sitemap settings for different sections of your websites are divided into various tabs on the left.

When the sitemap is enabled from Rank Math, it can be accessed from the URL www.yourwebsiteurl.com/sitemap_index.xml. This URL is important, as it will be important when specifying your sitemap URL to various tools.

Sitemap-settings

We will cover each tab and the settings in each tab in detail. Let’s get started.

General

The General Tab has all the general sitemap settings. Here is a glimpse of all the settings in it.

general-sitemap-settings

Let’s understand all the settings in detail.

Items Per Page

Your sitemap can be divided into multiple pages for better organization. This setting controls the maximum number of sitemap items per page. The default setting is set to 1000, and we recommend that you keep it that way.

Items-Per-Page

Images in Sitemaps

This setting enables or disables the inclusion of images in the sitemap. The default setting is ON, and we recommend that you keep it enabled.

Images-in-Sitemaps

This option sets if the featured images of posts are included in the sitemap or not. As you know, the featured image may or may not show up in the post depending on how you set it up, and this setting lets you control if you want to include them in the sitemap. We recommend that you enable this setting.

Include-Featured-Images

Exclude Posts

If you would like to exclude a few of your posts from being included in the sitemap, you can enter the Post IDs of those posts in the field separated by commas.

Please note that this setting is not limited to posts. You can enter IDs of posts, pages, and even custom post types to exclude them from your sitemap.

Exclude-Posts

Exclude Terms

If you want to exclude entire taxonomies, you can enter the term IDs of those taxonomies in this field.

Exclude-Terms

Ping Search Engines

Pinging is a process by which Rank Math can notify search engines that your sitemap has been updated. This setting helps you enable or disable the pinging feature. We recommend that you enable this feature.

Ping-Search-Engines

That covers all the settings in the General Tab. Let us move on to the next tab, the Authors Tab.

Authors

As you might have guessed by now, the Authors Tab contains all the sitemap settings that affect the Author Archives. Here is a preview of all the settings available in the Authors Tab.

Authors

Let us check out all the options one by one.

Author Archives

This setting controls the inclusion or exclusion of the Author Archives in the sitemap. Please note that this setting will only take effect if the Author Archives are not redirected to the homepage (we discussed this setting in another KB).

If you want to include Author Archives in your Sitemap, then enable the setting or else, disable it.

Author-Archives

Exclude User Roles

If you include the Author Archives in your sitemap, but want to exclude certain user roles from appearing in the sitemap, then you can use this option. This option lists all the current user roles present on your website. The user roles that you select will be excluded from the sitemap.

Exclude-User-Roles

Exclude Users

If instead of user roles, you’d like to exclude certain users from the sitemap, you can enter the User IDs of all the users here, separated by commas.

Exclude-Users

That concludes all the settings in the Authors Tab. Let us move to the next section, the Posts Tab.

Posts

The Posts Tab contains all the settings that affect the sitemap settings for your posts. Here is a preview of all the settings available.

posts

Let us understand the impact of each of the settings one by one.

Include in Sitemap

This option controls the inclusion or exclusion of your posts in the Sitemap. We recommend that you enable this setting so that all your posts are included in the sitemap.

Include-in-Sitemap

Image Custom Fields

You may include custom fields in your posts with image URLs. If you wish to include those images in the Sitemap, you can enter the custom field’s names in this field. Make sure to add only one entry per line so Rank Math can understand them better and include them in your sitemap.

Image-Custom-Fields

That concludes all the settings in the Posts Tab. Let us cover the next tab, the Pages Tab.

Pages

The Pages Tab contains all the settings that affect the sitemap settings for your pages. Here is a preview of all the settings available.

pages

Let us understand the impact of each of the settings one by one.

Include in Sitemap

This option controls the inclusion or exclusion of your pages in the Sitemap. We recommend that you enable this setting so that all your pages are included in the sitemap.

Include-in-Sitemap-1

Image Custom Fields

You may include custom fields in your pages with image URLs. If you wish to include those images in the Sitemap, you can enter the custom field’s names in this field. Make sure to add only one entry per line so Rank Math can understand them better and include them in your sitemap.

Image-Custom-Fields-1

That covers the Pages Tab. Let us now cover the Media Tab.

Media

The Media Tab contains all the settings that affect the sitemap settings for your media and attachments. Here is a preview of all the settings available.

media

Let us understand the impact of each of the settings one by one.

Include in Sitemap

This option lets you control the inclusion of your attachments in your sitemap. We recommend that you enable this setting.

Include-in-Sitemap-2

Please note that enabling this setting will add the attachment page URLs to the sitemap, not direct attachment URLs.

Products

If you use WooCommerce to manage an online store, the Products tab will be relevant to you as it contains all the settings that affect the sitemap with respect to products. Here is a look at all the settings available in this tab.

products

Let us check out all the settings.

Include in Sitemap

This option enables or disables the inclusion of product pages in the Sitemap. We recommend that you enable this setting.

Include-in-Sitemap-3

Image Custom Fields

WordPress gives you the option to include custom fields in your pages with image URLs. If you wish to include those images in the Sitemap, you can enter the custom field’s names in this field. Make sure to add only one entry per line so Rank Math can understand them better and include them in your sitemap.

Image-Custom-Fields-2

That covers the Products Tab. Let us move to the Categories Tab.

Categories

The Categories Tab is where you configure how your categories archives are configured in the sitemap. The tab has only 2 settings.

categories

Let us understand what each of the settings accomplishes.

Include in Sitemap

This option configures whether your category archives are included in your sitemap or not. Since categories give structure to your overall website, we recommend that you enable this setting.

Include-in-Sitemap-4

Include Empty Terms

If you have empty categories (categories with no posts or pages in it) on your website and want to include their archives in your sitemap, then enable this setting.

Include-Empty-Terms

That concludes the Categories Tab. Let us move on to the Tags Tab.

Tags

Just as the Categories Tab above affected how category archives appeared in sitemaps, the Tags tab affects the tag archives’ inclusion in the Sitemap. Here is a preview of all the settings in the tab.

tags

Let us understand what each of the settings achieves.

Include in Sitemaps

This option configures whether your tag archives are included in your sitemap or not. Since tags help organize your website, we recommend that you enable this setting.

Include-Empty-Terms-5

Include Empty Terms

If you have empty tags (tags with no posts or pages in it) on your website and want to include their archives in your sitemap, then enable this setting.

Include-Empty-Terms-3

That concludes the Tags Tab. Let us cover the next tab, the Product Categories Tab.

Product Categories

The Product Categories Tab is where you configure how your product category archives are configured in the sitemap. The tab has only 2 settings.

Product-Categories

Let us understand what each of the settings accomplishes.

Include in Sitemap

This option configures whether your product category archives are included in your sitemap or not. Since product categories give structure to your overall website, we recommend that you enable this setting.

Include-in-Sitemap-5

Include Empty Terms

If you have empty product categories (product categories with no products in it) on your website and want to include its archives in your sitemap, then enable this setting.

Include-Empty-Terms-4

That concludes the Product Categories Tab. Let us cover the Product Tags Tab.

Product Tags

Note: This option will only appear if WooCommerce plugin is installed and activated on your website.

The Product Tags Tab affects the product tag archives’ inclusion in the sitemap. Here is a preview of all the settings available in the tab.

Product-Tags

Let us understand what each of the settings accomplishes.

Include in Sitemap

This option configures whether your product tag archives are included in your sitemap or not. Since product tags help organize your website, we recommend that you enable this setting.

Include-in-Sitemap-6

Include Empty Terms

If you have empty product tags (product tags with no products in it) on your website and want to include their archives in your sitemap, then enable this setting.

Include-Empty-Terms-6

Resetting Your Settings

If a situation arises where you want to reset your settings to their default values, then you can use Rank Math’s Reset feature.

Click the “Reset Options” button at the bottom left of the screen to initiate the reset process. In a few seconds, the screen will refresh, and your setting will have been reset.

Resetting-Your-Settings

Saving Your Changes

Once you’ve made all the changes to the sitemap settings, it’s time to save your settings. If you navigate away from the page without saving, then all your settings will be lost. To avoid that, save your settings by clicking the “Save Changes” button at the bottom right of the screen.

Save-Changes

It might take a few seconds, but the page will refresh, and your settings will be saved. You will see a confirmation message at the top of the screen.

sitemap-settings-2

Conclusion

We hope that understand how the sitemap feature in Rank Math functions and how the various options affect your website and the sitemap. If you have any questions or face issues while configuring sitemaps in Rank Math, don’t hesitate to open a support ticket. The support staff is available 24x7x365 and will help you with any issues that you might have.

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