WordPress 5.5 has been published recently. This new version comes with a bunch of interesting features that affect either the backend (dashboard) and the frontend. Regarding the frontend, there is a major SEO move that has been taken on WordPress 5.5, which should make every SEO plugins to be a little bit afraid.
When it comes to considering what are the best WordPress SEO plugins, most of the time, Yoast SEO stands out clearly from his competitors. However, can we say that Yoast SEO is now useless as WordPress already ships a built-in XML sitemap? And how deep is the SEO integration on WordPress 5.5? That's what we'll find out on this blog post.
Introducing Sitemaps on WordPress 5.5
As announced on this post, the sitemap provided on WordPress 5.5 helps search engines to quickly and comprehensively identify most URLs available on your website. WordPress, therefore, generates a "wp-sitemap.xml", which contains a list of pages available on your blog. The good news here is that up to 50000 links can be integrated into that sitemap. WordPress 5.5 updates the robots.txt so that search engines know how they can find the sitemap.
Based on our tests, it looks like most of your URLs are included on the sitemap which is split in various other sitemaps. On our website parent website, there is a sitemap for posts, pages, products, categories, product categories, and users. Since we're using WooCommerce, we're happy to see that our shop appears on the sitemap.
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For the developers, this new features provides a lot of hooks and classes, that they can use to add support for sitemap for their custom post type (they don't need to generate a XML file for that). Event if that's not that deeper as the documentation provided by Yoast SEO.
Should You Disable Yoast SEO XML Sitemaps ?
So far, the default WordPress sitemaps work well. While Yoast SEO websites mention how (very basic) the sitemap generate by WordPress 5.5, I will not completely with them. In fact, the Sitemap generated by WordPress 5.5 is pretty decent and does the job. But now you should wonder if you should stop using SEO XML Sitemaps?
Let's list the reasons why you shouldn't probably disable Yoast SEO Sitemaps.
Meta Section to control post/page visibility
One thing that Yoast SEO does well, is to control whether a post, page, or CPT can be visible on the sitemap. There is a meta section for that on the dashboard, so you don't necessarily need to create a plugin for that.
Modifications Apply In Real-Time
All the modifications you'll perform that should affect the SEO will apply immediately. We haven't tested whether it's not yet the case with WordPress 5.5.
Smaller Sitemaps For Better Performances
If you have hundreds of WordPress posts, then it's probably not a good idea to have a sitemap that lists all (regarding the performances). Yoast SEO split sitemaps is smaller files that, so that they are generated and refreshed very faster.
Accuracy on content updates
Yoast SEO keeps the Search Engines aware of when a post has been updated. This is very useful as bots will notice the new content from the old one. They'll also notice the refresh frequency of your content.
Images Available On Sitemaps
Google Images is also a nice source of traffic for websites and Yoast SEO knows that. The sitemap provided by Yoast SEO can also include images, to ease images indexing by Search Engines.
Let's Wrap Up
WordPress 5.5 comes with definitely nices features. One of these is the XML Sitemaps generated by default. If that gives some reason to SEO plugins to be a little bit afraid (Yoast SEO), they remain more useful as their sitemaps are more detailed than what is provided by WordPress 5.5. However, since that's a new feature, we believe over time it will be updated and receive more features.
Now it's your turn to share your thoughts. Will you choose to disable Yoast SEO sitemaps ? Will you keep using it ? Let us know on the comments.