If you’re new to WordPress and now start optimizing SEO for your website or personal blog, you should consider to create sitemap now. But what is a sitemap and why do you need sitemap? Who will read that thing? In this article, we’ll show you what is a sitemap and why we need it for SEO, how to create sitemaps for WordPress sites and submit it to Google.
What is sitemap?
Sitemap is a list of page links on a website that is accessible to all users. Not like the old html sitemap created manually, today we use XML sitemap to tell search engine what are included in our website. In addition to all the available links on website, XML sitemap also indicates which links on your website are more important than others and how frequently you update your website.
Below is example of some sitemaps on our site. Each sitemap when you click in will show a list of all pages in that sitemap.
Why you need to create sitemap?
Imagine your website has a lot of content and Google bots need to crawl every piece of them to understand your website and record back to Google data. Later these data will be an important key for Google to decide if your website has what users are looking for and show it on search result pages. Sitemap is like a map for Google bots to see the structure and find the direction easier to crawl information on your website.
Even though sitemaps do not contribute to boost your page rank, it is important to help search engine understand your site structure and index all pages in certain priority. Especially for new websites which usually have not many backlinks, sitemaps will help your site to be crawled and indexed more quickly and effectively.
How to create sitemap for WordPress?
With WordPress, you can find many sitemap plugins to generate sitemap automatically and quickly. For Sitesao website, we use WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin. This popular SEO plugin also allows you to check and optimize SEO onpage for posts and pages.
Firstly, you need to download and install the plugin. You can find the free plugin right in WordPress dashboard > Add new and search SEO by Yoast to look for it. Follow our instruction here to install and activate the plugin.
After activating the plugins, navigate to SEO > XML Sitemap to create sitemap. By default, sitemap function is disabled. You need to turn it on by hitting Enabled button. After that, you can find XML sitemap of your site by clicking the button shown below. It will take sometime to generate sitemaps when you enable the function. Later whenever you have new content, the plugin will automatically update sitemap for your site.
How to Submit Your Sitemap to Search Engines
In most cases, search engine will automatically detect your site’s sitemap if you place it in the root of your domain. However, if you want to make the process faster (because search engine has to crawl tons of site a day), we suggest to submit your XML sitemap directly to search engine. Here we will show you the way to do it with Google (and actually Google is generating between 80 percent and 90 percent of all organic visits). Submitting yourself also can help you to check pages indexed, pages submitted and errors of your site. Google Webmaster Tools is the famous tool that allows you to submit your sitemap to Google.
Submit Sitemap of your website to Google
Follow these steps to submit your site’s sitemap to Google:
Step 1: Login to Google Webmaster Tools with your Google account
Step 2: Enter your site from the Search Console home page to add website.
Step 3: In the next screen, you will be asked to verify the ownership of the website you are trying to add. You can follow the recommended method that you have to download then upload a html file to your site. But since you are using WordPress SEO plugin to create sitemap, it is easier to copy the HTML Meta tag value and paste it there. To do that, click on Alternate methods > HTML Tag. You will see a line of HTML Meta tag code. Copy the value in the content=”copy_this_part” (Without copying the commas).
Go to your WordPress admin area and then click on SEO tab. Scroll down, and you will see Webmaster Tools heading. Paste the meta tag value you copied next to Google Webmaster tools and Save Changes.
Go back to Google Webmaster Tools and click Verify. You will see a notice like “Congratulations you have successfully verified your ownership of www.yoursite.com”. Click continue to see webmaster tools dashboard for your site.
Step 3: On the next screen you will see Sitemaps section with no sitemaps. Click on it to go to place where you can add your sitemaps. Click on button “Add/Test Sitemap” and enter the URL of your sitemap. If you use Yoast plugin, it should be sitemap_index.xml.
Sep 4: It will take Google sometime to crawl your website. You will see a notification once your sitemap is submitted. Now you can see some stats of your site like number of pages indexed, number of images submited …
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