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Sitemaps: Basics for small businesses & bloggers

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I hope you find this video helpful! If you have any questions, please leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you asap.

A sitemap is a tool for Google (and other search engines) to identify and document your website in its database so it can show your website in the search results for a relevant user search query.

You may not need a sitemap if you have a small website with proper internal links. However, I recommend creating one regardless of your site’s size and internal linking. I believe we should do everything possible to make Google’s life as easy as possible. This is one of the few one-time SEO tasks.

Important Notes About Sitemaps, Straight From Google’s Sitemap Documentation:

  • “If your site’s pages are properly linked, Google can usually discover most of your site. Proper linking means that all pages that you deem important can be reached through some form of navigation, be that your site’s menu or links that you placed on pages. Even so, a sitemap can improve the crawling of larger or more complex sites, or more specialized files.”
  • “A sitemap helps search engines discover URLs on your site, but it doesn’t guarantee that all the items in your sitemap will be crawled and indexed. However, in most cases, your site will benefit from having a sitemap.”

Recommended Sitemaps Actions:

  • Create a sitemap for your website using your free WordPress SEO plugin (Yoast, Rank Math, etc.) or another free tool (like https://www.xml-sitemaps.com/).
  • Sign up for Google Search Console (GSC)
  • Submit your sitemap in GSC
  • Link your sitemap at the very bottom of your website

General

WordPress SEO Plugins

The following free WP plugins will automatically generate a sitemap for you! You don’t need the plugin’s premium version; free will do.

Non-WordPress Website Sitemap Resource

A sitemap is a table of contents or directory for your website so that Google can crawl your website, scan the various pages, and then index it in its database. And so it will look something like this. If you are on WordPress, your SEO plugin will generate it for you, whether you’re using the Yoast SEO plugin, the All-in-One SEO plugin, or the RankMath plugin. And so I’ll show you in a second how to do it in Yoast, using the Yoast SEO plugin, but they’re all fairly similar. And if you’re not on WordPress, you can use a free tool to generate a site map for you. I just tested it with xml-sitemaps.com. However, the process of uploading it is a little bit more technical, so I will link some resources down below. But just to kind of help you understand the whole sitemaps process and what you should do with it, let’s come over to the back end of my WordPress dashboard and come over to Yoast SEO and then scroll down to the bottom of the settings page and then you can view and scroll down back to this page and you can have various types of sitemaps so as you see here I have post pages and then a few others. Most websites will only have a post and a pages sitemap. If you’re selling products you might have a product sitemap and usually your tool will just generate this for you. And so once you have this sitemap what are you supposed to do with it? Well, I recommend two things. One is putting it in the very bottom footer of your website. This makes it accessible from Google no matter what page they’re calling and scanning, they can just easily view it. The other thing is to add the sitemaps into Google Search Console. So once you’re logged into Google Search Console, you’ll go to sitemaps and then you’ll just paste the second half of the sitemap URL into here. So see how I have samanthadigital.com forward slash and then it’s just all of my various sitemaps. So forward slash page dash sitemap forward slash post dash sitemap. And so that’s really all there is to it. I will say a little bonus tip. If you do make updates or you do create a new, you know, resource or page on your website, what I always like to do is come over to Google Search Console, throw it into the search bar, and then request it for indexing. And so then you can check back in a few days to make sure that Google has indexed it. In closing, I want to emphasize that a site map doesn’t guarantee that all the items in your site map will be crawled and indexed. And you don’t even technically need a site map. But I’m of the philosophy that you should make it as easy as possible and do everything in your power to improve your presence in Google and this is just one of those things that you really do once and it’s just taken care of. An additional tip to see if your website already has a site map, which is very possible, is to install the detailed chrome extension and scroll to the bottom and click site map. If your site map appears then you’re already good to go. And it’s just a matter of bringing it over to Google search console.

Hey!

Hey there! My name is Sam and I have been building WordPress websites and doing SEO since 2020. I have made so many mistakes and wasted so much time over the years. My goal for these videos is to help you avoid those mistakes and save time.

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