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 a preview of 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.
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 Sitemap.
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