What’s a Sitemap, and Do You Need One?
There’s actually a more important question than what a sitemap is, and it’s: why would you even bother to know what a sitemap is?
Quite simply, a sitemap is something that helps you to reach out to search engines and let them know what pages on your site should be indexed. This makes it the easiest way of speaking with search engines directly. And as we all know, being on good terms with search engines always works in your website’s favor.
Essentially, a sitemap is a list of pages that are a part of your website. Search engines can access the sitemap to find every individual page. This works a lot quicker than locating pages by following normal HTML links.
Sitemaps are put together as XML files that are perfectly understandable to search engines like Google. If you want to provide a sitemap for your users then you’ll have to create an additional HTML-based sitemap.
How to Create a Sitemap?
Once you get the plugin installed and activated it’ll work right from the get-go. No additional settings are required.
However, if you’re a more experienced user you can take advantage of many options and customizations that are available.
Submitting Your Sitemap
Once you’ve enabled the Google XML Sitemaps plugin you should also let Google know about this fact. The best way of doing this is to sign up for a Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) account.
After adding your site to GWT navigate to Site configuration > Sitemaps.
To submit a sitemap click the “add/test sitemap” button on the right and input your sitemap’s URL.
In most cases the default URL is: domain.com/sitemap.xml but make sure that it’s the same for your domain before submitting it to GWT. When you click “Submit Sitemap” and everything goes well your sitemap is now recognized by Google. You should be presented with a notification and the basic dashboard of your sitemap stats.
That’s it, there’s no third step. From that point on, your sitemap is fully functional and Google sees it as a place to go for some reference about your website.