WordPress has some great built in features to help your SEO, and one is that it can be set-up to create a WordPress sitemap, and automatically update and submit it whenever you add or update a page or blog post. This saves a lot of effort, and ensures that the search engines will index all your pages and that new or changed pages will be indexed fast.
Not many people realise this or will take the few minutes needed to set this up. Its easy, so go ahead now by following the simple step-by-step instructions and you’ll gain an advantage right away!
In this post I’l show you have to auto-generate the sitemap, and then follow up with how to automatically submit it to the major search engines whenever you publish something new.
Once set up, you don’t need to worry about your sitemap again, and your pages will appear in Google, Bing and other search engines within minutes.
What Is A Sitemap?
You don’t need to know the detail, but it is essentially a list of all the pages on your website. If you want to know more read on WikiPedia here.
Note: a sitemap is an invitation to search engines, but your robots.txt file is still the arbiter of whether your want your specific pages or areas indexed.
How To Create A WordPress Sitemap
I’m going to cheat in a big way here, but it saves you (and me) lots of time and makes creating and updating your website very simple.
Use A Plugin To Create A WordPress Sitemap:
Step 1: I recommend Yoast’s excellent WordPress SEO Plugin This does more than sitemaps and you may not yet be ready to use all its features, but believe me it will help you and it does a great job of handling your sitemap for you. No doubt there are other plugins, but this one is a must-have, so go get it and in time you can start to use it more fully when you’re ready!
Step 2: To configure the plugin, go to Dashboard > SEO > XML Sitemaps, and check the box lik so:
There are other settings, to help you select which content is to be included, but unless you have a very large website its best to include everything in your sitemap, and use robots.txt to control what is indexed by search engines. For a large website, pruning the sitemap reduces the size and bandwidth it takes up (but then so would compressing it).
Step 3: Scroll down and click “Save XML Sitemaps Settings”
That’s it. The plugin takes care of updating your sitemap whenever you update your content, and places the sitemap in your website home folder for you. There’s a link to it on the settings page (see “here” in the above image). If you use this method, your sitemap will be at:
Actually, this file contains links to other sitemap files that contain the website links.
What To Do With A WordPress Sitemap
Make a note of the URL for your sitemap. Get from the “here” link in the above graphic of the plugin settings (e.g. click on it and copy the address from your browser).
Then finish off with: How To Submit WordPress Sitemap Updates – Automatically