Creating and Submitting XML Sitemaps
Since I’m building this site on WordPress with Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin, setting up my XML sitemap has essentially been done for me. Check the box in the SEO settings of the XML sitemaps page and boom. A sitemap! I also checked off categories, tags and format as page types I didn’t want to include in my sitemap. I’ll get into that later on in this post, but my objective is clear: allow Google to index every possible piece of content on my website, but index it only once.
Now that I’ve got my sitemap file location from Yoast, http://marketingchris.com/sitemap_index.xml, it’s time to submit it to Google via Webmaster Tools, which I set up earlier in the campaign. From your GWT dashboard, click Optimization > Sitemaps > Add/Test Sitemap
Excluding Categories and Tags
It might seem strange that I didn’t want to include my category and tag pages in my sitemap, but I actually don’t want those indexed by Google. I mentioned earlier that I only one want my content indexed once and unless I make modifications to my category and tag pages, they will have the same exact content as the posts themselves. I want my pages to work together, not compete for link juice or traffic.
Look at how similar the category and tag pages are below.
The content I really want indexed are the articles themselves, not a list of articles. Thinking of it from a user experience perspective as well as respecting the resources needed to discover and store this information may be that which separates your website from others.
Create a Sitemap for a Non-WordPress Site
If you’re using another CMS (content management system), chances are it has a way for you to create XML sitemaps easily. However, if you (or your niece) built your website in a completely custom fashion, you may need to rely on another program to do the heavy lifting.
I recommend Xenu Link Sleuth as your starting point and keep it handy – you’ll probably use it later to detect potential issues with your website. Fire it up and launch your first crawl (yep, it’s a spider!) by clicking File > Check URL.
Once it’s finished crawling your website, click File > Create Google Sitemap File and then follow the directions above to submit your new XML sitemap to Google.
During my crawl I noticed some 404, Page Not Found errors. I’ll address those in my next post. If you want to skip ahead, please feel free to contact me! Thanks for reading.