I hope you are enjoying our series on SEO tips for WordPress and that you can make use of this. This is the sixth episode where we’re going to talk about generating or using the sitemap that you generated in the last episode and add that to Google so that it can begin to index your site.
So you’re going to take the URL that you got from the XML sitemap generator that you used. In our case we used the SEO plugin by Yoast and you’re going to add that to the Google webmasters search console.
So what you want to do is head on over to google.com/webmasters. There is a nice green button there that says “search console.” If you’ve already logged in, all you have to do is go to the search console. Otherwise you have to log in to Google.
Once you’re inside there, you’re going to go and add your property but your property is essentially your website. So, you’re going to click on “add property,” click the URL of your website and then it’s going to associate your account with that new property that you added.
You may be asked to validate your site and there are several different ways that Google will tell you how to do that. And it’s usually by adding something to the header of your site, uploading a file to your website or adding something to your DNS.
Once you’ve authorized your site and claimed ownership of your site, then you’re going to go into the sidebar of Google webmaster tool search console. And you’re going to go on to the crawl section. Under that crawl section there is a section menu item called “sitemaps.” In the site maps, this is where you’re actually going to add it. In my case, for the site I’m working on, the site map is “my domain name/sitemap_index.xml.” And this is the XML or sitemap file that yoast generated for me.
If you have nothing there, obviously you have to add one. So, in the upper right-hand corner of your screen there’s an “Add text sitemap button.” You’re going to click that and then it’s going to have the root URL already. All you have to do is add the sitemap_index.xml file. And then go ahead and submit that. And then Google actually starts crawling your website.
What does this do for you? Well, first of all it tells Google that all the pages that are on your site, sometimes we have pages on our site that are hidden or not in a menu item, and we want Google to find this item so we’ll include those in the xml file. Yoast does a great job of doing things like adding stuff like categories, all our blog posts. Maybe you are authors in there as well, so it will add all that to the site map and help Google find those additional pages that you didn’t build into your main menu of your site or link from any other page on your site.
And this speeds up the ability for Google to find those pages and have more pages available on the search index for your site. It’s very key to do, not just a nice thing to do. You need to make sure that you do this for all sites you build. Otherwise, it’s going to take forever to index your pages just to speed up the process.