If you own a website that you want to rank on search engines, you need to create an XML sitemap to index your website.
What is an XML sitemap?
Google states a sitemap is –
“a file where you can list the web pages of your site to tell Google and other search engines about the organisation of your site content. Search engine web crawlers like Googlebot read this file to more intelligently crawl your site.”
An XML sitemap explains the structure of your website and it’s pages. It informs google of your home page (the most important page of your website), your contact page and any other important pages that you want quickly accessible for your users.
By submitting the sitemap, you are telling google which pages are more important than others. A easy-to-traverse website from the homepage improves your SEO potential in the eyes of google’s crawler bot.
How to create an XML sitemap on your WordPress website
SoBold recommends two WordPress plugins to place a sitemap on your site. However, you should not use multiple sitemap plugins as it will cause a conflict in which sitemap is correct.
The most popular sitemap plugin on WordPress. Once activated, you can access your website’s sitemap by searching:
On your WordPress Admin Dashboard, you can view how the sitemap prioritises pages on your website by viewing Settings -> XML-Sitemap and scrolling down to the bottom of the page to the “priorities tab”.
SoBold recommends that you tweak how the sitemap prioritises pages depending on your website’s purpose:
Increase the priority of blog posts if the majority of your content are posts. However, if you are a business website focused on showcasing a product with static pages, it is a sensible idea to lower the priority of posts and increase the priority of static pages.
2. Yoast SEO
The most popular SEO plugin on WordPress. Along with it’s powerful SEO features, it also includes a sitemap which must be enabled in Settings -> XML Sitemaps
Click the slider to set it from disabled to enabled.
You can access the sitemap by searching:
Remember: do not have more than one sitemap enabled at once!
I’ve got my sitemap. Now, how do i submit my sitemap to google?
To submit your sitemap to google, visit Google Webmaster Tools (also known as Google Search Console).
If you have not done so already, Authenticate your ownership of your website. To do this, click add property, enter the URL of your website, and confirm you own that site from the activation email that is sent to you.
Once you’re in the dashboard, go to the side menu and go to crawl -> sitemaps
Now you can click Add/test sitemap and enter in the full URL of the sitemap on your site.
You can test that the sitemap URL you have entered is correct with the test button. Once you know it is correct, press submit.
It’s that simple!
It will take 1-2 days for Google to confirm your XML sitemap and start indexing your web pages. As soon as they are indexed, you will be able to use the search console to see other important statistics such as impressions (how many times your website has been seen on the search listings) and clicks (of all impressions, how many actually clicked through to your website).