When we create a website, one of the most common question is how to list your site in search engines like Google. When ever I talk to newbies who are not aware of how search engine works, they think that they need to pay to Google or other search engine to list their Website in Google. This is is not true, as you can show your Website in Google search for free. The only thing you need to work upon is help Google find your blog. I have already shared my case-study on how to index your new website in 24 hour, and in this guide I will talk extensively about submitting your site map to Google webmaster tool.
Google Webmaster tool (GWT) is a free tool which let you control your website from search engine perspective. I will not get into detail about GWT as I have already covered it before. If you have missed it, here is the first article to get you started.
Now first understand what is a site map and what is the important of submitting your site map to search engines.
What is a sitemap?
. A Sitemap is an xml file which contains the URL’s inside your blog. This file is helpful for crawlers to find all URL’s of your blog. Though it’s up to many factor like size of your sitemap and number of URL’s in your sitemap, that crawler will follow. In short, Sitemap is a complete index of your blog which you want search engine bots to see. This wiki article on sitemap will give more technical and historical detail about sitemap.
In simple word; Sitemap file contains all the URL of your blog, and we submit it to search engine to let them know about all the pages of our blog. Search engine bots follow sitemap file to crawl and index your website. You can learn about crawling and indexing over here.
For normal Website we use online site map generator to create a site map file and submit it to webmaster tools offered by Google and Bing. For WordPress blogs, we use plugins which automatically keep updating our site map file as we publish new post. This way, you don’t have to resubmit new site map after publishing new articles. It’s a good practice to place your site map file link at the footer of your website, so that search engine bots can quickly discover and follow the site map file and crawl your blog more effectively.
Since, we know by know what sitemap is lets move to the next level.
How to Generate sitemap for your WordPress Website?
Sitemap can be generated in different ways depending upon the platform you are using for your website. For example, WordPress sitemap can be easily generated using plugin call Google XML sitemap generator plugin. For other platform like static sites, there are many online tools and offline software’s which will help in sitemap generation. In this post, I assume you know how to generate site map and we will stay tuned to how to submit sitemap to Google.
Submitting sitemap to Google Webmaster tool:
When we talk about submitting sitemap to Google, it means submitting it to Google Webmaster tool. I assume, you have already verified your site in Google Webmaster tool and logged into your webmaster tool dashboard here. So by now, you have your sitemap link ready with you. If you have used any offline tool to generate sitemap, upload it to root of your site like /sitemap.xml. Here is how my blog sitemap looks like: ShoutMeLoud Sitemap.
Inside your Webmaster tool dashboard, on right hand side you will see an option call Sitemaps. Click on More to see all submitted sitemap or you can submit a new sitemap from there.
Click on Add/Test site map to submit your site map file. On the same page, you can see which all site maps are discovered by Google or which site map files are submitted by you or someone from your team before.
Depending on what type of sitemap you have generated, you can submit it from here. If you are running a site with lots of images, I suggest you to create an image sitemap, as we already discussed in Image SEO optimization that how much useful image traffic is for us. Similarly, you can create Video sitemap for your Website. For WordPress blog, you can create Image sitemap using this WordPress plugin.
If you are submitting sitemap for a new blog, it might take some time for you to see the index status. With index status on the same page you can see how many URL’s are submitted via sitemap and how many links Google have indexed. If you have submitted separate sitemap for Image and videos, you will see status for those links too. Here is an example index status of ShoutMeLoud blog:
If you are done submitting your blog sitemap to Google search, I suggest you to read this guide and repeat the process for Bing webmaster tool. Here is an exclusive guide to submit sitemap to Bing webmaster tool. Here are few more guides which you should consider reading:
- 12 solid steps to increase Google crawl rate for your Website
- Understand Google Webmaster tool site crawl errors and fix them right now
Do let us know if you have done sitemap submission for your website or not? What other SEO things do you do for faster indexing of your blog?