If you want your website to be found on Google, you need to submit your sitemap to the Search Console.
A sitemap is basically a list of all of the content on your website, including pages, blog posts and images. It’s kind of like a map of your entire website, hence why it’s called a sitemap!
When you submit your XML sitemap to Google, the search engine crawlers will read this file and learn all about your your website and how it’s structured. Your content will then be indexed and this will help your website to appear in Google’s search results. There’s no guarantee that all the content in your sitemap will be crawled and indexed, but it’s always worth submitting a sitemap regardless.
The idea of creating and submitting a sitemap might seem intimidating and confusing. I think it’s the word “XML” that scares people into thinking it has something to do with coding. But actually, it’s really simple if your website runs on WordPress and you use the Yoast SEO plugin.
In this post I’ll show you how to create a sitemap using Yoast SEO, and I’ll then show you how to submit it to the Google Search Console.
This post was last updated on 25th October 2018.
1 | Install Yoast SEO
The easiest way to create a sitemap in WordPress is using a plugin, and although there are a lot of sitemap plugins out there to choose from I highly recommend that you use Yoast SEO. Yes, Yoast is an SEO plugin, but it has many other amazing features, including the ability to create a sitemap.
I’ve shared a post all about using Yoast SEO to improve your website content, but I will quickly recap how to install Yoast SEO.
So, to add a new plugin, hover over Plugins in the left hand menu in WordPress and click on Add New.
On the plugins page, use the search bar to search for a plugin called Yoast SEO. This is what it looks like:
Click Install Now and then Activate when prompted to. And that’s it! Yoast is installed and ready for you to use.
2 | Create your sitemap
Now that Yoast has been installed, it’s time to create your sitemap.
Click on the new SEO item in left hand menu. This will take you to the general setting page of Yoast.
On this page, click the Features tab at the top of the page.
On the Features page you will see a number of options. Scroll down to the option called XML sitemaps and make sure this option is set to On. It should be set to on by default, but if you do need to turn it on, make sure you click the Save changes at the bottom of the page.
To view your sitemap click on the question mark next to the XML sitemaps option. This will reveal some text and links. Click on the link that says See the XML sitemap.
This will open a new tab with a page that looks a little something like this…
This page is the sitemap index file, and as you will see the sitemap index contains a number of sitemaps.
On this page, the main thing we are interested in is the URL of the page, not this individual sitemaps. We are particularly interested in the part of the URL after your domain:
This is all we need to add our sitemap to the Google Search Console.
3 | Submit your sitemap to Google Search Console
The next step in this process is to log into the Google Search Console so that we can add our sitemap to it.
If you haven’t already added your website to the Google Search Console and verified it, you will need to do this before you can add your sitemap. I have a post that will walk you through the process of adding a website to the Search Console.
Once you are in the Search Console, you will see a menu on the left-hand side of the screen, and in this menu you should see an item called Sitemaps. Click on this.
On the sitemaps page, you will see a box where you need to enter the URL of your sitemap. As you can see you will not need to add in the domain part of your URL as this is already there for you.
Once you have entered your sitemap’s URL, click Submit. If all is successful you will see a message that looks like this:
Then, underneath the box where you entered your sitemap’s URL, you will your sitemap.
Initially, the status might not say “Success” and probably won’t see a number under Discovered URLs. This is because it takes time for the Search Console to work through your sitemap.
Pop back in a few hours or a few days and eventually you will see that the status of your sitemap will have changed to “Success”.
Once your sitemap has been successfully added to the Search Console, click on the Coverage link in the left-hand menu.
This will take you to the coverage page where you can see an overview of all the pages in your sitemap. Not only will this show you all of your valid URLs that have been indexed, it will also highlight any errors such as missing pages or any excluded pages.
It make some time time for your website pages to be indexed after adding your sitemap to the Search Console. So don’t worry if you don’t anything here straight away!
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