This is a small step that takes only 5 minutes to complete, but creating sitemap & submitting to Google will bring very practical benefits for you. So whenever you make a new website, do not ignore this.
In this article, I will help you understand what XML Sitemap is and why you must create it on your website? Along with that I will guide how to create sitemap XML for websites using WordPress.
What are XML sitemaps?
An XML Sitemap is considered to be a map of the website, this is a link on your site that is formatted yourdomain.xml. When the user clicks on this link, they will see all the pages accessible on your site.
For example this is the sitemap of flashreviewz: https://flashreviewz.com/sitemap_index.xml
Generating XML Sitemap & submitting it to the search engine is also about informing the search engines about the articles / pages that exist in your site, how you updated the article and the importance of the articles on the page.
So What is a sitemap?
Sitemaps are an easy way for website administrators to notify search engines about the content available on the site for the purpose of helping search engines to crawl.
Sitemaps include XML files that list all the URLs on the website, with additional metadata for each. For example :
- When was the last update?
- Frequent change of content?
- Importance of this content with other content?
This will help search engines (mostly Google) collect and process information more intelligently & more accurately.
Why should every website have an XML Sitemap?
Often, information-gathering networks often detect the contents of a website from internal links within that site, or from other sites linking to it. Sitemaps will add data so that the search engine can retrieve all the links and understand the relevant data.
Using the Sitemap protocol does not guarantee that your website will appear on search engines. But it will help search engines treat content, information & data in your website faster & more accurate.
According to SEO experts, sitemap does not directly increase your keyword rankings on search results. For example, if there are some articles on your site that are not indexed, then the sitemap will be the tool that will tell google about these articles. From there Google can index these articles quickly.
Or when there is content updated on your website, sitemap will help Google discover it sooner. Same for page, list or tag, … This indirectly affects SEO.
The operation method is simple. After you create the sitemap and add it to Google Search Console (this tutorial will be covered in this article), the Google search bots (or other search engine’s bots) will follow the links in this sitemap & notice to index.
Creating a sitemap is very useful for new websites, as new web sites often have trouble indexing. (These pages have very few backlinks, so Google bots do not visit.) XML sitemap will tell you on behalf of Google: “I have a new website, please go to probe and index my website“
As for the old website, XML sitemap will help Google know the level of updating the website, giving your website a more overview from the search engine. It can rank more precisely on search results.
How to create a Sitemap XML on WordPress?
You can see that Yoast SEO plugin is very popular in my posts. Because it has many functions in SEO or related to SEO, and it performs very well so it is very widely used. (My website also uses this plugin)
Yoast SEO plugin also has built-in sitemap generator, so you do not need to use a separate plugin to create a Sitemap again. If you do not know how to install the plugin for WordPress, please take a look at the plugin installation tutorial here before practicing.
After installing Yoast SEO. You go to SEO => General => Feature to check whether the feature created sitemaps have turned up or not. If it’s Off, turn On.
Then click on See the XML sitemap to see if the sitemap is working or not.
If it displays a page like this, then this is your sitemap page, you have successfully created.
If at this step the site does not load the same page, try Setting => Permalink => Select Post name and save. Then go back to the sitemap link above to check again.
Submitting Your Sitemap Directly to Google
This is what you have to do after creating a sitemap. Make sure that you have created a sitemap with the same interface as above, if you have not created sitemaps yet, you can not submit it to Google Search Console.
Submitting to google will be made in 2 steps:
- Step 1: Validate your website with Google Search Console. Be sure to complete this step before step 2.
- Step 2: Add the sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools
After successfully validating your website with Google Search Console, go to the Google Search Console interface => Crawl => Sitemap.
Then look at the upper right corner, click Add / Test Sitemap
Add your sitemap, please pay attention only add the sitemap extension. For example sitemap created by Yoast SEO it has the extension sitemap_index.xml, only add this. You do not add the entire link because Google Webmaster Tools will give the link before then, after adding you click Submit.
You will be notified as Item Submitted, meaning your sitemap has been submitted to Google Search Console. You can hit the Refesh the page to check the status of the sitemap.
And if there are no more errors, it will show as follow:
So you have successfully added the sitemap to Google Search Console.
If you read the Google documentation for sitemaps, they mention that Sitemaps will be useful “for really big websites,” or “For websites that use rich content,”or “New websites that have links to other websites”, …
However, SEO specialists always assert that Sitemaps always bring benefits to every website, whether it is big or small, have more content or less content or use multimedia content.
Brian Dean from Backlinko has listed Sitemaps on 200 factors that affect SEO. So if you make a new website. Do not forget to install Yoast SEO and inform Google Search Console about the new sitemap you created.
If you can not follow the instructions, leave a comment.
Featured image credit: yoast.com