Perhaps one of the simplest ways to ensure that your site is seen by the search engines is to submit a proper sitemap to them. And perhaps one of the simplest ways to do that is to use the Google XML Sitemap plugin. Don’t let the name fool you – this plugin also helps you get seen by Bing, Yahoo, Ask.com and other major engines by submitting to them the sitemap it creates. This plugin won’t guarantee you the #1 position on a search engine…but it will help the search engine’s do their job and make it easier for them to find your regular and relevant content. What is a sitemap, you ask?
Sitemaps are an easy way for webmasters to inform search engines about pages on their sites that are available for crawling. In its simplest form, a Sitemap is an XML file that lists URLs for a site along with additional metadata about each URL (when it was last updated, how often it usually changes, and how important it is, relative to other URLs in the site) so that search engines can more intelligently crawl the site.
Web crawlers usually discover pages from links within the site and from other sites. Sitemaps supplement this data to allow crawlers that support Sitemaps to pick up all URLs in the Sitemap and learn about those URLs using the associated metadata. Using the Sitemap protocol does not guarantee that web pages are included in search engines, but provides hints for web crawlers to do a better job of crawling your site. (sitemaps.org)
How to use the Google XML Sitemaps plugin:
- Once you have logged in to your WordPress website, scroll to the PLUGINS tab in your dashboard’s sidebar. Expand it and click ADD NEW.
- Search for “Google XML Sitemaps.” At the time I’m writing this post, it is the second plugin returned in that search. Click INSTALL NOW, and confirm YES, you do really want to install this plugin.
- After the installation process is complete, remember to click ACTIVATE, or your plugin will not be available for you to use…it will merely be installed on your site.
- Once you do that, scroll to the SETTINGS tab in your dashboard’s sidebar and expand it. You should see a new link for XML-SITEMAPS. Click it.
- You will see a notice at the very top of this settings page that tells you to build your sitemap for the first time. Click that link… and the magic will begin!
Once your sitemap is built, you will not need to make any other changes to the settings on this page. This plugin is fantastically configured straight out of the box! I know – it almost sounds too easy… but it’s true. So take four minutes and go install this plugin on your site right now.Then, if you have any questions, feel free to pop over to the forum and ask!