Did you know there’s now more than 75 million websites online that use WordPress? If you’re a WordPress user like myself, you’re well acquainted with the many advantages of using the CMS. What you may not be aware of is how important setting up a sitemap for your website is.
According to Google: “An XML Sitemap is a document that helps Google and other major search engines better understand your website while crawling it.”
Basically, an XML Sitemap lists out the different pages of your website in a simple format. Search engines such as Google like sitemaps because they make it easy for their software programs, or spiders, to collect all of your website information.
For my website, I use the Google XML Sitemaps Plugin. It’s very easy to use.
Step 1. First, install and activate the plugin. Once you activate the plugin, your sitemap will automatically be created but there’s some things you need to check.
If you’re new to WordPress, you can check out this guide on how to install plugins.
Step 2. Go to the XML Sitemap Dashboard. You’ll find it by going to ‘Settings’ in your main menu bar on the left.
Step 3. You are now looking at the dashboard of your Google XML Sitemaps plugin. There are different settings you can play around with but you don’t really need to change anything. For right now, click on your sitemap URL as shown below. This should open up your sitemap file.
Depending on the structure of your website, your sitemap may be separated into different categories like mine is below. I recommend clicking through each of these and making sure that all of your Web pages are listed correctly.
Notice the URL at the top: www.webmade.com/sitemap.xml
This is the URL that you will use when adding your sitemap to Webmaster Tools.
If there are pages showing up that you don’t want, odds are you either didn’t delete them in WordPress or they are still in your trash. Permanently deleting these pages should solve the problem.
If you make changes to the pages of your website, Google will crawl your new pages according to the settings in the ‘Frequency’ section of your XML Sitemap Dashboard. I’ve left mine on the default settings but you can change yours if you’d like.
Step 4. I always recommend that site owners also submit their sitemap through Webmaster Tools. If you don’t have a Webmaster Tools account, check out this article on how to create one. Once logged into your Webmaster Tools account, go to ‘Sitemaps’ on the right-hand side.
Step 5. Click on ‘ADD/TEST SITEMAP’
Now it’s time to enter your sitemap URL. Once you’ve submitted your sitemap, Google will begin crawling and indexing your pages. It can take several days for Google to complete this.
Once completed, Google will tell you how many pages you submitted with your sitemap and how many it indexed. Sometimes Google will not index all of the pages you submitted. It’s perfectly normal for not all of the pages on a site to be indexed. Google explains why in this article.
Nicely done. You’ve successfully created a sitemap and you’ve submitted it to Google. You can always check the status of your sitemap through your Webmaster Tools account or by simply typing in your sitemap URL (yourwebsite.com/sitemap.xml).
As always, I’d love to hear your feedback and comments. If you found this article useful or if you think I left something out, please let me know.