How to Create a Sitemap for a WordPress Site

Having a sitemap is very important for your website’s visibility on the internet. As you may guess, even you have great content, it means nothing if people can not find it on their google searches. Search Engine Optimization (or commonly used as SEO) will be a real buzzword that you will hear a lot in your blogger career. It would be a wise move to have a sitemap for your SEO.

So, let’s begin with the basics like “what is a sitemap ?”

A sitemap is basically an XML file that contains a URL list to guide the web crawlers about your website’s pages which are available for the internet.

Maybe at this point, a little additional information about web crawlers, robots.txt and XML may be helpful to better understand the whole sitemap concept.

A Web Crawler (aka web spider or automatic indexer) is a piece of software which is specifically designed to perform one simple task over and over : to collect data about web sites by visiting them repeatedly. This data that they collect is the main raw material used by the search engine algorithms to compose the search results.

A robots.txt file tells to web crawlers where the sitemap files are located and which part of this web site is not allowed for them. It looks something like this;

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XML (Extensible Markup Language) is a mark up language like HTML. Because the main topic of this post is not about XML, what you should know basically about XML files are as follow;

  • They are plain text files.
  • They simplify data sharing.
  • They are hardware & software independent (which make them so great !)
  • They are used to store and transport data.

OK, now you know what a web crawler, robots.txt and XML files are, then you can keep going.

We certainly want to ease this fellow web crawler’s job, right ?  Because if it makes its’ job properly, we will be the beneficiaries of better search results.

Then we should have a sitemap, but how come ?

Good news : It is as easy as just clicking a button.

STEP 1 :

Log in to your WordPress dashboard. Choose Jetpack / Settings / Engagement

Find and simply turn on Sitemaps (drag the button to the right)

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Your sitemap will immediately be ready at yourwebsite.com/sitemap.xml address as a courtesy of Jetpack.

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STEP 2 :

You are almost halfway through.

Now, what you have to do is to send this sitemap to Google.

To be able to to do this, you need a Google account (in case you haven’t had one yet)

It is pretty straightforward, so I will not get into details.

Just follow the commands on the link below.

https://accounts.google.com/SignUp?hl=en

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After you create your Google account, you should have an account control panel like this :

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STEP 3 :

Now that you have a Google account, you will use this account to verify your website’s ownership. By verifying your ownership, you basically say to Google “Hey, this is my website, please come and index it”

Details are given in the following link.

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35179?hl=en

Just follow the orders.

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In my opininon, the easiest 2 methods are either “HTML File Upload” or Domain Name Provider methods.

But of course, it is not written in stone. You may choose any of the other methods.

This youtube video is from Google team. It explains the basics about the verification process.

 

STEP 4 :

You verified your website’s ownership.

You can now go to Google Webmaster and log in with your Google account.

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Click Search Console (As an introduction to Google Search Console, you may read this post)

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Your Website’s Name will appear in the middle of the page. Click it;

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STEP 5 :

Yes, you are almost done.

Last thing you have to do is to add your sitemap.

Click Crawl / Sitemaps / Add/Test Sitemap (it is on the upper right side of the page)

Write your sitemap’s address yoursitename.com/sitemap.xml

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First, hit Test, see if everything is OK.

Then, hit Submit.

Congratulations !

Mission accomplished.

You submitted your sitemap to Google.

Now, it’s Google’s turn to come and visit your site.

Tolga Ayan

Writes articles about WordPress, CSS & Related Web Technologies. Resident of Alpharetta, GA.

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