One of the most important things you can do to help your SEO efforts is to create and submit a sitemap to Google Search Console.
Many people neglect to do this for their business websites simply because they don’t know what a sitemap is or why it’s important to have one, so our local search engine optimization experts at Big Red SEO will take some time today to explain just that.
Not only will we tell you why sitemaps are important, but we’ll also explain how you can create and submit one for your business website to Google Webmaster Tools.
The Importance of Sitemaps
A sitemap for your website is just what it sounds like—a document that shows your website’s navigation structure in the form of a list of all URLs on your website (at least all that you want to be crawled).
The sitemap also gives additional information about each page, like when it was last modified, how frequently it’s updated, and whether it should take precedence over another page or pages.
Having a sitemap is important to your SEO efforts because it provides a guide for search engine crawlers like Googlebot to index your site more effectively.
Think of it this way—if your website is a building, the sitemap is its directory, telling search engine crawlers exactly where everything is on your website.
When search engine crawlers know exactly where to go, your entire website is indexed better.
Sitemap Creation In WordPress Is Done Automatically!
In the old days, you had to create your sitemap either by using a tool or using an SEO plugin such as All In One SEO, Yoast or RankMath.
As of WordPress 5.5 however, WordPress now creates an XML sitemap automatically. It has a few limitations, but for most people, the automatic builder works without issues.
The main limitation that the WordPress XML Sitemap has is that it will only allow up to 1,000 posts/pages to be indexed. Again, not a big deal for most people.
If you’re using one of the aforementioned WordPress SEO Plugins, it will automatically disable the XML Sitemap building in favor of their own creation in the plugin.
How to Generate a Sitemap with WordPress SEO by Yoast
There are many ways to generate a sitemap that you can then submit to search engines, but our preferred method here at Big Red SEO for sites using WordPress as their CMS is through a plugin called WordPress SEO by Yoast. Using this plugin, creating your sitemap is fast and easy:
- From your WordPress Dashboard, go to SEO, then to XML Sitemaps.
- Once you’re on this page, click the box that says “Check this box to enable XML sitemap functionality.”
- Next, click the “XML Sitemap” button. This will take you to the URL of your new sitemap!
How to Submit Your New Sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools
Once your sitemap is created, the Googlebot should be able to find it automatically but to make completely sure that it is found, you can submit it manually to Google through the Google Search Console (previously Webmaster Tools). By submitting your sitemap through Google Search Console you also gain access to valuable analytics data. Sitemaps are XML files, not regular HTML or Text files. They must be in a specific format for the search engines to read them.
- Log in to your Google account and from there, head to Google Search Console
- Add your site to Google, then click your site URL
- On the left, you’ll see a section for “Index” and “SiteMaps”
- Click the Sitemaps, and at the top, use the Add a new sitemap to add your desired XML files.
- Google will check the sitemap for errors. Once it’s been checked with no errors found, Google will start indexing your website
Find Errors And Index Problems You Can Fix
One of the great things about the Google Search Console is that you can find out what pages Google has indexed, which ones it had problems with, and if there are any items that need to be fixed.
We usually recommend submitting the sitemaps separately (one for pages, one for posts, one for categories, etc) as it is easier to narrow down where there might be an issue.
Also, you don’t have to stop with just the Google Search Console, Bing has their own system in Bing Webmasters where you can submit your sitemap to them too and verify that everything is being found.
Contact Big Red SEO Today at (402) 522-6468!
As you can see, the process for creating and submitting a sitemap of your website to Google is easy with WordPress, which is why our Big Red SEO experts recommend it as our content management system (CMS) of choice. Of course, there are other ways of creating sitemaps if your website doesn’t use WordPress, and our local search engine optimization team is always here to help you! Give us a call today at (402) 522-6468 for Omaha’s best industry-exclusive SEO services.