Use An XML Sitemap Generator To Create and Auto Update Your Website Sitemaps
Want your pages to show up in Google? Then you better have a sitemap on your website! A sitemap, or more specifically, an XML sitemap, is like a road map or a table of contents for all of the important pages, posts, and images on your website. Having an XML sitemap will tell Google, and other search engines, which pages are on your website – so they can know to include them in their search results. In this episode we’ll cover the basics of sitemaps, how to create them, and why you need one!
- What is a Sitemap for your website
- What is an XML sitemap
- What is an HTML sitemap
- Why you need both HTML and XML sitemaps
- Easy plugins for WordPress to generate an XML sitemap
- How to choose what content to include in your sitemap
- How sitemaps tell Google you have new pages or images on your website
- How to generate sitemaps on non-WordPress websites
- Selecting sitemap generators that auto-update
Thanks for Listening!
Here is the transcription from Episode 16 Creating A Website Sitemap For Google With An XML Sitemap Generator;
Jesse Dolan: Hey Everyone, Jesse Dolan and Bob Brennan coming back at you with Local SEO
Tactics and this week we’re going to get a little technical again. We’re going to
be talking about Sitemaps for your website. Super exciting topic, can’t wait for
it. No, it’s actually going to be a pretty dry topic but as we’ve said in some other
episodes, take some notes, if you gotta pause this, once you get home, grab a
glass of wine, a bottle of bear, bottle of wine, whatever it is. Take some notes.
This is some stuff you’re going to want to make sure you’re doing. The Sitemaps
are like your index or your table of contents for search engines to know what
pages are on your website so they can possibly get them index into their search
engines. Last episode, if you haven’t listened to it yet, we talk about Google
search console, formally web master tools. That’s where you’re going to use this
Sitemap. So, if you haven’t listened to that yet, check that episode out. It’s going
to tell you where this is applicable. So, this episode we’re going to get into the
nuts and bolts on it. Before we go too far into that though, I’m just noticing
some bling off my right hand side here. I gotta ask you about these cuff links. I
don’t think I’ve ever seen those before. Yeah.
Bob Brennan: It’s pretty fancy, huh?
Jesse Dolan: What is that?
Bob Brennan: So, it’s a B. You know, last name Brennan. B. Some guys use initials. I thought
it’d just B. All my buddies I play hockey with, when they walk into the locker
room, I’ll probably be putting a head lock when I come in there but just trying to
dress it up a little bit.
Jesse Dolan: No, that’s cool. I didn’t even notice them until just now. So, if you’re listening to
this on a podcast, like if you didn’t have a video before, come check out the
video on YouTube. You gotta see these things. They’re pretty blingy. So-
Bob Brennan: Sure. Hollywood.
Jesse Dolan: Anyways, back to the show. Okay. So, a Sitemap. There’s going to be really two
main versions of your Sitemap. One is called the XML Sitemap, the other’s going
to be your HTMl Sitemap. Both of them very important. If I was going to give
precedence, one over the other, that’s going to be your XML Sitemap. That’s the
one that you’re going to be submitting to Google and it’s definitely not made for
humans as much as an HTML Sitemap may be. We’re going to break both of
those down real quick. How do you use them? How do you get them? What are
they? How do you make them and then what do you do with them? So, first
things first, if you’re not using Word Press, it’s definitely our favorite platform
for developing and maintaining websites and this is going to be another great
example of why Word Press is so slick. So, if you’re using Word Press, you can
use plug ins, which are an easy way of saying pre-coded modules or features
that you can just add on your website, much like if you have a phone or
smartphone particularly, you can download apps, right? To make your phone do
things it couldn’t do before.
That’s what plug ins are for Word Press. Some are free, some you have to pay
for and some are kind of like both. They’re apps that may be free for a light
version, then you gotta pay for certain pro features. With Word Press, there’s a
couple SEO related plug ins that we would definitely recommend and that we
use ourselves that are going to allow you to generate and then produce and
enable effectively these Sitemaps. So, the first one is called Yoast. Y-O-A-S-T and
I would say, I don’t have an exact stat to fall back on, this is kind of going off
historical but it’s kind of like the 800 pound gorilla of SEO plug ins. It does a lot
of other stuff and we’re going to be talking about the plug ins in some future
episodes to dive deeper into this. It does a lot of other stuff beyond the XML
Sitemap but the XML Sitemap utility within this plug in, Yoast, is just super.
Another product that’s extremely popular with everybody out there is called All
In One SEO for Word Press.
So, either one of these that you choose or some other one as well, doesn’t
matter, we have no horse in the race, we just prefer Yoast for the usability and
some of the features but all of these are going to have the ability to generate
and manage an XML Sitemap for your website. What you’re going to want to do
is make sure because this is the table of contents for your website, you want to
decide what kind of contents you want to be displayed in that. So, within a
Word Press website at least, so, my example for the rest of this part is going to
be talking about Word Press but it’s going to apply to any website format that
you have. So, you’re going to have webpages, right? You’re going to have posts
within Word Press, that’s kind of a different module. You have pages and posts.
Extremely similar but technically different and then you have the other main
categories as images or media. So, you have to decide if you want to have those
be in your table of contents, then be indexed by Google. Maybe you do, maybe
you don’t. There’s other various fields that you’ll see when you get in these tools
for who the author of the page was and some other details but those are usually
the main ones people are concerned about.
I want my pages to be found on Google and, or I want my images page to be
found on Google and images are particularly Google Image search. So, here’s
where you would make sure you would say yes, I want these displayed in my
table of contents, your Sitemap or not. If you just leave it as default, that’s fine
too. Most of these come out of the box, ready to go but we always say this is
your property, this is your asset, you should learn what you’re doing. Don’t just
blindly accept the defaults. At least, take a tour of this and see what’s being
enabled and what’s not. So, this is going to generate, once you go through those
settings, it’s going to generate an XML Sitemap and most of them, as long as you
click the button that says enable, turn on, or some of that affect, it’s going to go
ahead and incorporate that right into your website. Usually, it’s going to put a
little link in the footer that says XML Sitemap or Sitemap or something like that,
which is then a clickable link and a crawlable link for Google, which is excellent.
If you didn’t do anything else, that’s still really good right there but really to get
the maximum benefit out of that, you’re going to want to take that link for that
Sitemap and plug that into your Google search counsel and if you’re on Bing,
Bing’s going to have a very similar format to Google Search counsel, you’re
going to want to plug that in there as well and what you’re doing is you’re saying
okay, Google, here you go. Here’s where my Sitemap is. This is the address for it
and Google’s going to monitor that and once you have that set up, today, if your
website has let’s say, 25 pages on it, if you go make a new page tomorrow about
some new topic, it’s going to automatically edit your Sitemap because Google is
already looking at that Sitemap and they know this is where I gotta go to see
what’s on your website. The next time they crawl that Sitemap, they’re going to
see one new page was added, right?
They’re going to take that page, they’re going to crawl it, they’re going to index
it hopefully and then that page will be able to be included in the search results.
So, definitely an important thing to set up because if you’re following along
here, this lets Google know all the pages on your website and then
automatically going forward, it lets Google know all the new pages you add to
your website. It doesn’t guarantee you’re going to get rankings, it doesn’t
guarantee that it’s going to get indexed, that’s all downstream information and
decisions there but this at least gets your horse in the race.
Bob Brennan: Right.
Jesse Dolan: You know what I mean? And automatically too, which is a very important part. It
makes it very easy for you. So, there are other third party tools if you’re not
using Word Press. I think it’s XML. Let me see here. Yeah. XML-sitemaps.com is
something that we use on non-Word Press websites. There’s going to be a
whole host of other ones that are similar. Again, we have no horse in the race
here, just personal preference for what we’ve used historically but if you just
google XML Sitemap generator or things like that, if you’re not using a Word
Press website, you’re going to find all kinds of resources to be able to do that
and a lot of them should be free. Most of them are going to be free up until let’s
say 1000 pages or maybe even 100 pages. So, depending on the size of your
website, you might have to pay a few bucks a month to get a service like that
but it’s still worth it.
Bob Brennan: So, what part of the market does Yoast represent versus All in One? I mean,
what would you guess? If you want to pull up. You’re the stat man but I mean-
Jesse Dolan: I don’t know. I don’t have exact stats on that. If we wanted to go through Word
Press and check the plug in downloads, I’m sure we could but I do know that
Yoast heavily markets that they are the number one SEO plug in. So, most
people that I bump into and talk to is you’ve either tried it or you use it. It is the
bench mark. So, as far as market share, I know percentage wise, who’s the
biggest and the most popular? I would say Yoast and Yoast is pretty cool in that
they have, it’s like the light version is free, which is extremely powerful. It’s
really all 99 percent of you out there, that’s all you’re going to need is the light
free version but then they do have upgrades for various power user type
features and they’re extensively updating it all the time. It’s just really great.
This has turned into Yoast promo here on my end but that’s not the intent but
it’s great if you just want to start somewhere, I’d start with that. So, that’s your
XML Sitemap. It’s one half of the equation. That’s the side that gets
communicated to Google and it’s more for the crawlers and the robots, if you
will. Another thing that you’re going to want to implement is your HTML
Again, you can do this with plug ins with Word Press or go out and Google that
as a third party. Most of these plug ins or applications you’re going to use are
going to have the ability to do both one way or the other. If you’re stuck and
you can’t figure it out yourself, we can definitely help you with that in
tricks.com/show even if we have to do something custom for you, this is really
easy to do but what this does is the same thing. Every page that’s on your
website gets added to this HTML Sitemap. That also is linked down at the
bottom of your website, just like the XML version that’s going to automatically
be linked down there for all the robots and the crawlers and this is for humans,
you can spider the website and crawl through there but it’s almost more like a
back up or an alternative way for the robots and crawlers to be able to crawl
and potentially index your entire website.
The reason you’re going to want it at the bottom of every page, I’d say, but for
sure on your homepage because what this allows is let’s say your website has
100 pages, maybe on your homepage, which is one page, and then your main
menu page is if you have seven links at the top of your home page, effectively
right there, if you didn’t have these Sitemaps down at the bottom, if one of the
spiders or the Google bot hits your website, and then crawls your website. What
we mean by that, they check your website to see what pages and what content
is on there for the purpose of being in their index. So, they hit your homepage
and then they look for every link within your website and then they spider or
crawl from there. So, now, if your homepage is one page and you only have
seven links at the top, that’s eight pages right there. That’s your website. That’s
it’s entirety. It’s going to go to those seven pages that are linked at the top and
it’s going to do the same thing. Is there any new pages that are linked from
these pages and it spiders out from there. That’s where it comes from, or it
crawls out from there.
Now, sometimes you have pages that aren’t linked through your main
navigation. It could be maybe you’re going after some unique landing pages,
you’re attacking key word variations or maybe for different cities. So, I would
talk about let’s say plumbing for an example. If I’m talking about an emergency
plumbing services on my main homepage linked page but I have some landing
pages about hot water heaters or maybe a certain suburbs and I’m just making
them for keyword searches to be found in Google, you might not have all of
them linked in your main menu. So, they would effectively be hidden if you
didn’t somehow link to them. That’s what these do at the bottom of the page. It
makes sure that on any page that you’re on, it has a navigation point to jump off
and see all the pages on your website. So, the XML Sitemap is going to be more
robot friendly and pretty technical, the HTML one really does serve the same
purpose, it’s just a different way, almost a back up if you will and you’re going to
want to have both of them on there.
Now, for both of these again, no matter what plug in or app that you’re using,
this should be on autopilot where you shouldn’t have to take I’ve got our pages
and it’s showing 100 pages on my Sitemap or things like that. If you’re using the
right tools, this should be very automated for you. This isn’t apart of your
website where you’re going to want to be checking in all the time and keeping a
separate spreadsheet to track this stuff. Stick with something that a lot of
people are using, don’t be the first person to test out some new product for this
stuff. Just get on board with what everybody else is doing because this is a very
basic thing once you get it set up and to be up and running on your website.
You’re really not going to have to pay too much attention to this. That being
said, it’s definitely something you want to make sure is working. If you’re using
the Google search console, if there’s ever a problem with this stuff, they’re
going to alert you to that or you’re going to look in your dashboard and you’re
going to see that there’s an error with your Sitemap or something else.
Things can happen. Things can get glitchy. Come on, we’re talking about
computers and internet. So, things can get glitchy. So, you’re going to want to
pay attention but it’s not something to worry about and really agonize over. If
you are using a non-Word Press website, a more traditional HTML type website,
this may not be as automated for you, you may have to go out there and trigger
your app to crawl your pages or maybe submit some information and then
download the XML file or the HTML file from them and then add it to your
website and upload it, which if you’re using an HTML website right now, that’s
not a foreign process to you. That’s not going to scare anybody who’s using that
kind of a website and again, just reiterate, if you’re on Word Press, once you set
this up, it’s pretty much automated from there. You’re not going to have to
worry about it.
Bob Brennan: Okay. So, Jess, if you don’t know what these terms mean, HTML and XTML or
whatever the case is, what does this mean to me? Do I get to sit down and
figure it out? How do I get the answers to that?
Jesse Dolan: Yeah. It’s something if you’re not exactly sure what the heck to do with this,
reach out to us quite frankly. These are things if you know what we’re talking
about and you’re grasping it, you should be able to do it. If you’re stuck, there’s
no sense of beating your head against the wall. I’m not saying we would do this
completely for free, again, drop us a show notes page, intex.com/show, reach
out to us. If it’s a quick question and easy fix, sure, we’ll help you out. We’ll give
you the feedback or even use it on the show as a deeper tutorial but if it’s
something that requires a little bit of service and a little bit of labor, this is not
rocket science, it’s going to be a quick solve for you. Don’t spend an hour or two
trying to figure it out or four hours banging your head against the wall. Just
reach out to us for help.
Bob Brennan: Yeah because the web can be the emperor has no clothes type of a thing.
Everybody’s just like oh, yeah, nobody wants to admit hey, I don’t know what
he’s talking about or geez, if I could just get this question fired off. Fire them off
to us. We’ll try to answer them as quickly as we can and thoroughly and if we
don’t answer it thoroughly, keep asking us again.
Jesse Dolan: Right. So, great question. This may be something that is too technical or just
confusing. Just stop. Let us help or if you know somebody else, it doesn’t have
to be us, Word Press particularly, you can throw a rock down the street and
probably hit somebody who knows something about Word Press. So, if you’re
stalling out, just get help from somebody. That’s definitely the best answer
there. So, well, that’s about it for this week. That’s a quick topic, a short one, but
definitely a very important want. You’re going to want to make sure you get
taken care of. So, again, if you have any questions let us know, otherwise we’ll
see you next week.
Bob Brennan: Hey, this is Bob Brennan here. Just jumping in to let you know we are offering a
live site review, Facebook live and we’ll be doing it here in a couple weeks but
we just need people to submit their websites to us, let us know what kind of
problems you’re having or anything specific you want us to look at and we’re
excited about this because this is a community thing. We can all learn from each
other’s sites and challenges and we didn’t know this but we’ve got people
watching from all over the world. So, feel free to do that. Submit it to us, we’ll
take a look at it and then we’ll post. We’ll get back to you when we’re going to
do the Facebook Live. It’d be nice if you’re there. So, as we’re making
comments, you can ask questions and we can dial it back and forth on your site.
Jesse Dolan: Two things intrycks.com/live. Go ahead and let us know if you’re interested and
follow us. Facebook.com/intrycks
Hey everyone, Jesse coming back at you here. We wanted to read our review for
the week. Love getting these. We just keep getting five star reviews. Let’s us
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your local business, your small business and you letting us know that we’re
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that. So, going to read another one here this week. This, let me grab my phone
here. This is from Blu02ss, not sure who you are. Again, this always cracks me up
but the review says, “Thank you.” It’s a five star review. “There’s so much value
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maximize their business presence online. Thanks for putting this together.” I
kind of feel like a broken record when I say that’s the kind of feedback we love
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If you are one of those people, we would definitely like to hear from you too.
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