Sitemap xml for Beginners

In this Guide to Sitemap XML, we will

  • Briefly explain what, why and how of a sitemap xml.
  • Give 2 plugins to use that make it easy
  • Show how to generate sitemap xml with 1 of the plugins
  • Show how to submit your sitemap xml to Google

So let’s dive straight into the basics of a sitemap xml on your website. Now if you’re at the beginner level and you’re sitting there scratching your head and saying to yourself. “Sitemap xml, I don’t even know what that word means”  then stick with me for a moment and by the end of this blog post you have a basic understanding of what the sitemap for a website is and why this is so important to, your website, your business and your future marketing campaigns.

What is a Sitemap?

What I understand from the loads of information out there is, a sitemap xml is basically a map of your website that is needed so your site can be easily read and navigated by the search engines. Okay so that means I will need a sitemap for the search engines to read if I want my website to be found. That is how I understand what a sitemap is.

There is an easy explanation over in Wikipedia which basically says a site map (or sitemap) is a list of pages of a web site accessible to crawlers or users. It can be either a document in any form used as a planning tool for Web design, or a Web page that lists the pages on a Web site, typically organized in hierarchical fashion.

You can read the full article by clicking on the word Wikipedia or click on the Wikipedia logo below this section.

Why Have a Sitemap?

Well to me that is obvious, now I understand what a sitemap xml is. I need a sitemap on my website for the simple reason of being found by the search engines like Google, Bing etc. so when people type in a search word or term my website has a chance of being displayed in the list to that person.

So having a sitemap for my website makes sense from a beginner’s point of view, but then the next thing your thinking is, well how do I go about doing that?

How to Generate a Sitemap?

Now this is another subject about sitemaps where there is tons of information and not all is good quality easy to understand. In fact for a beginner to the world of having a website, some of the information on generating a sitemap can be downright confusing and made of word that seems to speak in code.

To be honest when I first started my research in the early days on the subject of generating a sitemap for my website, I was left so overwhelmed and frustrated at how little I actually seemed to know that I left sitemaps behind and just didn’t bother with it for a long time.

I hope to save many beginners out there the same feelings of helplessness and stupidity that I felt in those early day of setting up my own website.

Now let’s get to the meat of the sandwich. If you are anything like me then you have probably opted for the easiest way to set up a website and discovered the WordPress platform.

A place where the absolute beginner to websites and even web designers themselves can make use of an easy website building platform that can create a website for you with just a couple of clicks.

So this How to Generate a Sitemap section will take place within a WordPress website platform.

Now the nifty thing about WordPress websites is things called plugins and it is in the plugin area that you will find what you need to easily create a sitemap for your website. There are 2 plugins I have used on my WP websites and recommend.

The first one is WP SEO by Yoast WordPress SEO plugin for creating sitemap

Yoast Website

this is super easy to use, works well and also does some other things for your website as well. So it is a plugin that has multiple uses based around SEO for your WP website. You can find and install your WP SEO plugin by going into your plugin section, choosing add new and doing a search for WP SEO or you can follow the link below. I currently use the free version but am thinking about upgrading to the paid version.

The second one is Google xml sitemaps Google xml Sitemap plugin

this plugin basically just does the one thing, it generates your xml sitemap for your website. Make sure you choose the right one when searching for this as other developers have named their version almost the same. The version you are looking for is by Arne Brachhold just like in the image above.

Instructions on Generating Sitemap XML 

  1.  Install one of the plugins
  2. Activate plugin
  3. Go into the settings or dashboard area of plugin
  4. Follow instructions inside the plugin
  5. Click on Generate sitemap
  6. Follow instructions to find sitemap
  7. The sitemap page will have a bunch of url’s that finish in -sitemap.xml
  8. Copy the code at the end of your sitemap url
  9. Go to Google Webmaster Tools
  10. In left menu click on crawl.
  11. Choose sitemap
  12. A page will load and in the top right area you will see a red button that says Add/Test Sitemap
  13. Click to open box where you enter the end part of the sitemap url and click submit.

This should automatically take and your sitemap has been offered up to Google successfully. Yes you will need a Gmail account to do this and I suggest you keep those login details safe because you can also create your Google analytic account with that same email address.

Now that is all done your next step will be to create your sitemap navigation page which is very simple. All you need to do for that is create new page. Tittle the page Sitemap and on the page in list form put your most important pages and then hyper-link each of those pages back to their original partner page on your website. Don’t know what Hyper-link is never mind, the image below should explain this for you.

diagram of a hyperlink

showing where to place your hyperlink

 

Video Tutorial on How to Generate Sitemap for Beginners 

Now to show you exactly how to generate your site map and submit your site map so your website can be crawled and indexed by the search engines, I thought it best to do that in video form.

So watch the video below and that will walk you through how to generate your sitemap and how and where you need to submit your sitemap so your website can be read and navigated by the search engines.

 

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18 Comments on "Sitemap xml for Beginners"

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Kim
Guest

Ripper info THANKS Sandra, I had almost given up on trying to work this out until you came along! THANKS! Kim

Sandra Lemming
Guest

hahaha your welcome Kim. I totally understand how you felt. Glad I managed to get it translated into a format that anyone can follow 🙂 really appreciate your feedback

Kathleen McKay
Guest

Thank you Sandra! Excellent information I need to learn. You have made it so much easier. x

Sandra Lemming
Guest

Your welcome Kathleen. I am glad I have made it easier for you. Thank you for your your support.

Linda Nicholas
Guest

Gee Sandra – I am sooo glad you took the time to do up this training video for us. I definitely fit into the beginner category when it comes to Site XML – you made a complex subject easy. many thank yous 😉

Robbie van't Wout
Guest

Great stuff Sandra. You make doing sitemaps so easy thanks

Tash Bell
Guest

thanks Sandra, what a fantastic explanation and video on a confusing topic! Now I know exactly how to go and set this up for myself, cheers

Toni Everard
Guest

Awesome Sandra! Thank you so much. I really had no idea what any of this meant but as I watched your video I kept pausing and going to my site and doing exactly what you said and voila! Success. Feeling like I’ve accomplished something, cheers 🙂

Rachel Wilson
Guest

Thank you so much for this info Sandra…. I actually didn’t even have my website verified! All sorted and done now 🙂

Alicia
Guest

Awesome Sandra! Thanks for this really simplified and nice easy steps to follow, brilliant! =)

Sandra Lemming
Guest

Thank you Alicia, so happy to have helped 🙂

Sandra Lemming
Guest

Awesome so glad this blog post helped you get it sorted. I really appreciate you stopping by and letting me know I had helped you in some way. You rock

Sandra Lemming
Guest

Awesome so happy the video has helped. Thank you Toni 🙂

Sandra Lemming
Guest

Awesome so happy to have helped thank you Tash 🙂

Sandra Lemming
Guest

Thanks so much Robbie

Sandra Lemming
Guest

Awesome thanks Linda I hope it helps you along the way with developing your site 🙂

Margret Wathey
Guest
Hi Sandra. Since having my new site, and having been out of touch with business lately (4months plus), I have had to relearn all this. I found your awsome video very, very helpful and more importantly, so easy to understand and follow. Thank you so much for your valuable contribution… Read more »
Sandra Lemming
Guest

Thank you Margret I am so glad to have been able to help.

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