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.
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.
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
- Install one of the plugins
- Activate plugin
- Go into the settings or dashboard area of plugin
- Follow instructions inside the plugin
- Click on Generate sitemap
- Follow instructions to find sitemap
- The sitemap page will have a bunch of url’s that finish in -sitemap.xml
- Copy the code at the end of your sitemap url
- Go to Google Webmaster Tools
- In left menu click on crawl.
- Choose sitemap
- A page will load and in the top right area you will see a red button that says Add/Test Sitemap
- 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.
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.