The sitemap does not contribute to ranking, nor does the sitemap influence whether a page gets crawled or not. It’s a tool that’s slowly becoming deprecated. With WordPress, you probably don’t even require a sitemap. To learn more about sitemaps, check out our other KB article giving everything you must know about sitemaps.
No categories, tags, or other terms are placed in the sitemap of TSF, including those of WooCommerce and other plugins. The inclusion was planned, but we forewent it because there are critical issues in WordPress.
It’s difficult to determine when the terms were last updated: they change whenever you publish or update a new child post, and it then depends on your theme how and if they’re shown. To resolve that, the plugin must perform multiple database queries for each of the terms we’d like to include, and even then, we could be sending out the wrong information.
In other words, if we’d want to do this right, it’ll lead to slow performance and thousands of hours in maintenance for something that’s ultimately redundant for modern search engines.
Later, we also found that including terms in the sitemap could adversely affect the indexing performance — the fewer items there are in the sitemap, the less the search engine has to process, thus the faster they can crawl your website. This was the final nail struck in the coffin: we won’t include terms in the sitemap until this changes; so, we’ll never include terms in the sitemap.
Does this impact discoverability?
No. Sometimes, yes, but that’d be for the better.
Search engines discover links on your pages automatically. Unless you’re deliberately removing followable links to terms from your website, WordPress and your theme will make sure search engines can find all the terms you use… without the help of a sitemap.
Does this impact ranking?
I meant for the terms, not pages!
Other plugin authors or some SEO guru made you believe this, didn’t they? The answer is still no.
You just can’t do it, can you?
Here’s 200 shiny lines of code, 100% working, inside an external plugin using our perfect API. There. Done. We still won’t include it in The SEO Framework, though.
You probably don’t even need a sitemap when using WordPress, anyway. Yet, somehow, someone caught an asinine figment that led to the inclusion of complex sitemaps in WordPress Core. Speaking of which…
I’m an ignoramus, and I want terms in my sitemap.
If you use WordPress 5.5 or higher, you can disable TSF’s sitemap to use the new Core Sitemaps feature. TSF enhances these Core sitemaps, so they’ll have their indexes filtered correctly. However, indexing performance will be affected severely. Moreover, those sitemaps aren’t cached, nor optimized for performance, nor translation-plugin compatible, nor can those be prerendered, nor are those protected against DoS attacks. It’s your funeral.
It does come with pinging support and automated robots.txt inclusion, though. And, of course, those pesky terms everyone seems to want in their sitemaps for no good reason.