XML Sitemaps Feature Plugin Open for Testing and Feedback

XML Sitemaps Feature Plugin Open for Testing and Feedback

Thierry Muller, a Developer Relations Program Manager at Google, and several contributors posted an update on the XML sitemaps feature that may land in WordPress this year. After seven months of development, the team has made the XML Sitemaps feature plugin available on GitHub. It is currently open for testing and feedback. The plugin should also be available in the WordPress plugin directory by next week.

Update (January 31, 2020): The Core Sitemaps feature plugin is now available in the WordPress plugin repository.

The project aims to ship a basic version of an XML sitemaps feature to all WordPress installations. It will also offer an API for plugin developers to manipulate. Therefore, sitemap plugins would not automatically disappear. Instead, plugins would offer users various options on how their sitemaps work.

A team created by Google, Yoast, and other contributors originally proposed XML sitemaps as a core WordPress feature in June 2019. Traditionally, WordPress has left this feature to plugins to implement, and many have filled this role over the years. However, several other major content management systems ship with sitemaps as part of their core codebase.

Many praised the initiative, such as WordPress project lead Matt Mullenweg. “This makes a lot of sense, looking forward to seeing the v1 of this in core and for it to evolve in future releases and cement WordPress’ well-deserved reputation of being the best CMS for SEO,” he said.

However, several people questioned whether WordPress should ship with XML sitemaps. Some were worried about performance and others felt like the feature should remain in plugins.

“At a high level, expanding the number of WordPress sites with Sitemaps ultimately speeds up content discoverability by search engines and re-crawl fresher content flagged by the lastmod date faster than a scheduled bot would,” Muller said of the primary reasons the feature belongs in core.

WordPress users may see this feature arrive in major update this year. “Ambitiously [version] 5.4,” said Muller of the release goal. “Realistically 5.5.”

The feature plugin currently indexes the following URLs for a site:

  • Homepage
  • Blog posts page (if not the homepage)
  • Posts and pages
  • Categories and tags
  • Custom post types
  • Custom taxonomies
  • Users/Authors

Custom post types and taxonomies are registered only if they are public. There is also a filter hook available to change which post types, taxonomies, and users are indexed. Ideally, WordPress would provide a registration flag for post types and taxonomies.

Solving the Performance Issues

One of the primary concerns with the initial proposal is how well a core sitemaps feature would perform and scale, particularly on larger sites. Without a full caching solution built into core, it presented some hurdles

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This article was written by Justin Tadlock and originally published on WordPress Tavern.

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