These three facts on Google are common knowledge:
For the first two, there isn’t much you can do. Yes, Google is a master at keeping its algo a secret.
And yes, with over 65% market share, you must on Google or you won’t be anywhere.
To thrive is to adapt.
“Yes, but how should I start”?
My suggestion- with something easy.
In fact, something so easy, so quick and so powerful that you’d feel like you’re cheating.
I’m talking about you building an XML sitemap for your website, and submiting it to Google Webmaster Tools
And that brings us to this post.
What is a sitemap exactly?
XML sitemap is a list of url’s of your whole website.
Imagine it to be a blueprint for your house where every url represents a room and you have a spacious mansion with hundred of rooms- hopefully 😉
This article will benefit you in three ways:
- You’ll learn of all the gains XML sitemap can give you
- You” learn how to build an XML sitemap with All in One SEO plugin (and to build it so it actually boosts your SEO)
- Finally, you’ll learn how to upload your XML sitemap to Google and Bing/Yahoo
If you’re thinking: “oh man, this is gonna be hard, you’re in for a pleasant surprise 🙂
I promise that 5m after you’ve read and understood this guide you will have a sitemap of your own and a killer one it’ll be
- What Are the Benefits of Having an XML Sitemap?
- 1. You Should Build and Submit an XML Sitemap Right From the Start
- 2. XML Sitemap Helps Your New Content be Found Quickly
- 3. Crawl Rate Control- Get the Most Bang for Your Buck
- 4. XML Sitemap Records the Updates to Old Content and Hands the Information to Google
- 5. Weak Internal Link Structure
- 6. New Site= No Backlinks.
- 7. XML Sitemap Prevents Duplicate Content Problems
- How to Build a Sitemap With All in One SEO Plugin
- How to Add a Sitemap in Google Webmaster Tools
- How to Submite a Sitemap to Bing Webmaster Tools
- Conclusion- Building and Submiting an XML Sitemap- A Piece of Cake For a Pro Like You 😎
What Are the Benefits of Having an XML Sitemap?
Benefits are huge and numerous. I chose 7 crucial ones:
- Sitemap gives you lightning- fast first indexation
- Faster indexation of all new content
- Crawl rate control
- Sitemap informs Google whenever old content is updated
- It mitigates the effect of having a weak internal link structure
- It relieves the painfully slow indexing of new sites with few or no backlinks
- It protects you from duplicate content penalty
This is important stuff so let’s break it down real quick.
1. You Should Build and Submit an XML Sitemap Right From the Start
To ensure you’re found quickly, and because Google is unpredictable.
Sometimes it finds you the next day, and sometimes you can wait a whole month before getting that first and crucial indexation.
Don’t wait that long if you can help it (hint: you can).
I can tell you from experience that it’s a pain to work your ass off and know that Google is not even picking you up on the radar. It happened to me with my first niche site where it took Google full six weeks to find it!
So next time I created a website(this one) I submited a sitemap the first day.
Indexed in 48h. Slight improvement, wouldn’t you agree?
2. XML Sitemap Helps Your New Content be Found Quickly
How quickly? Give me an example.
Henry Casey from Moz experimented with sitemaps and whether they cut short(and how much) the time Google needs to find new content.
He had two websites on the line.
Both were regularly updated (two times per week) but only one (site A) had an XML sitemap.
Here are the results:
- Site A- On average, new page indexed in 14m
- Site B- On average, new page indexed in 1375m
3. Crawl Rate Control- Get the Most Bang for Your Buck
You can’t really “tell” Google how often to crawl your site- but you can suggest it.
Getting crawled often is really beneficial for any website that gets a tonne of comments every day.
Now, I know what you’re thinking:
Cooments, great! More keywords for me!
comments are words/keywords and Google WILL index it all and GIVE you new rankings.
But there’s more to them than just keywords.
They can lift your SEO to a whole another level.
1. Having comments on a page is a huge factor for ranking that page. When Google sees that people are engaging with you it rank you higher for it, especially above the pages that don’t engage their audience.
Here’s proof of this concept:
2. One of the ranking factors for Google is “freshens value”. And it can be spread around the site to refresh your other pages.
When you get a comment on a page A that means that is just updated- it’s fresh.
Page A has internal links (it should).
Accord to Cyrus Shepard from MOZ, freshness value passes through internal links to the target pages. This refreshes them and makes them stronger (hint: they’ll rank higher).
And remember that those pages also have internal links and are now in full strength. It’s the full cascade effect with an SEO twist 🙂
Now tell me before we go continue:
Does XML sitemap boost SEO or what? 😎
4. XML Sitemap Records the Updates to Old Content and Hands the Information to Google
One of the most powerful (and underutilised 😉 ) SEO technique is updating old articles.
When you bring a piece up to date good things happen:
- Finds a higher place in the SERP’s for it.
This is because of a combination of factors: freshens of the page, enhanced content and in my opinion, the intent to reward webmasters who come back to their old stuff in a bid to make it better.
In the old days of SEO, it was all about pumping out reams of mediocre content and that was the key to the game.
More content»more rankings»more traffic» more earnings.
The rules have long changed and now and I’m convinced that Google pays much more attention to how you take care of existing stuff on your site. Do you revisit it sometimes?
Or do you simply don’t care?
From my experience, whenever I do a rewamp of an older post, my rankings from that page hit the roof.
Note– This only happens when you do a significant update. You can’t just change a few words, delete a few sentences, add a paragraph or two and hope it’ll make a difference.
If you want to learn more about updating for maximum benefits, check out Neil Patel’s guide on the topic.
5. Weak Internal Link Structure
Too many folks don’t get the importance of internal links. and those that do often make mistakes.
What is a good internal link structure? It’s when each article has at least one internal link pointing to it.
Having an XML sitemap is a perfect replacement for not having many internal links. Build and submit one and you have a guarantee that Google will reach all your content.
Note. Of course, you do want to have internal links.
- They help with rankings (by sharing PageRank and Authority)
- They bond together your content making each piece just a little stronger and your whole site much more (I call this principle “You push me, I’ll push you- and we both go up”).
- Internal links turn a weak and young site into one solid mass of power, a force to be reckoned with in the SERP’s.
Keep in mind:
These links are sadly overlooked by the majority of bloggers. Most of your peers rather opt for some shady tactic that promises quick results. And they make a mistake.
That’s your chance.
Internal linking is a rare SEO strategy that is good for Google, your visitors, AND you.
- Links help Google index your content better.
- They help your visitors navigate to other useful articles on your site.
- And all of this cumulates into a large benefit for you.
When Google is pleased, and folks are happy, you alone can’t be left hanging, am I right?
Here, let me say it:
Both sitemaps and internal links are overlooked by the majority of bloggers. If you do just one, you’ll stand out. If you do both you will surpass most of your peers, and for good!
Think about it!
New sites don’t have links pointing to them. And that’s a problem since Google crawls the web by following links. But to get natural links you must be discovered first.
I think you know the answer by now.
By having an XML sitemap submited you ensure that at all times there’ll be at least one “external” link for Google to use.
7. XML Sitemap Prevents Duplicate Content Problems
Let me tell you two things about affiliate marketing.
1. It’s hard. Affiliate marketing is one tough nut to crack.
Not only do you have to:
- Do a tonne of research,
- Write a million words
- Edit that million into three millions and back
- Format so that people will actually read it!
But you also have to wait a lot of time for Google to rank you, all the while continuing to write (because you can’t stop) and wondering “when will it happen for me?”
And here’s the worst part:
At all times you’ll be under attack from:
- Fear of failure
- Fear of your work not being accepted
- Fear that what you’re doing won’t amount to anything
- Fear that it won’t make an iota of difference for you
Think affiliate marketing is hard? Think again- it’s extremely hard and it’s a fact.
2. Affiliate marking done right makes for a dream life come true. People who are successful with it, (and I mean normal people like you and I, not hyper-successful folks like Harsh Agarwal and Pat Flynn) have a truly blessed existence.
- They depend on no one
- They work for themselves
- They earn a lot of money(even more than people who have excellent regular jobs)
- They have flexible schedules
- Their families have them at all times(this is the best benefit- Do you agree? 🙂 )
So what’s this got to do with sitemaps?
Well, since affiliate marketing is so hard and so rewarding, you can bet there’re millions online who want that kind of life but don’t want or can’t put in the work. So they take the easy route- they steal.
Yes, they scour the web, copy other people’s work and post it on their websites.
This destroys them without fail, but it could also destroy you.
If you haven’t submitted an XML sitemap, then Google won’t be able to tell who is the rightful owner of the piece.
And if it thinks you stole content- that’s trouble.
How to Build a Sitemap With All in One SEO Plugin
A few days ago as I was reading this post about sitemaps it occured to me that I haven’t submitted my sitemap in a while.
So I wanted to do there and then.
Then I had a thought:
“Why don’t you record your steps for the good folks who want to make a sitemap and don’t know how?
Show them by example- it’s the best way to learn.
And here it is:
Note. This option is turned off by default in All in One SEO so you first need to activate it.
- In your WordPress dashboard go All in One Seo» Feature Manager
- Right at the top you’ll see the Sitemap option- activate it
- Return to the WordPress dashboard and hover over All in One SEO tab and now you’ll see “XML sitemap”- click on it
Now it’s time to make that XML sitemap
- Filename Prefix– The name of your sitemap- leave as “sitemap” because it’s simpler for Google’s spiders to recognise it as such.
- Schedule Updates– How often should your sitemap remind Google of your website’s existence? I suggest (and Google agrees with me 😎 ) you match it with your content publishing strategy. Do you plan on posting once a week? Then set it on weekly.
- Enable Sitemap Indices- You won’t be needing this anytime soon. Yours is probably a brand new website and this option is only for sites with more that 50 000 url’s, or more than 10 MB in size- leave it unchecked.
- Post Types to Include in Sitemap- Everything is included by default and I recommend you keep it like that- you want Google to find all your content and that’s why you’re building an XML sitemap.
- Date Archive and Author Pages- Leave them unchecked. Once upon a time, they caused duplicate content issues. It’d probably never become a problem for you, but why risk it? Author pages and archives are useless to begin with.
- Create a Compressed Sitemap- Yes, check it so it can be your backup sitemap. if there is ever problem with the primary XML sitemap then Google-spiders will pull this one instead.
- Virtual Tobot.txt Link- This places a link to your sitemap in your dynamic robots text file. Yes, enable it.
- Generate Sitemap Dynamically– This setting is crucial. You need to check it. It basically tells your sitemap to update itself whenever you make a change on your site. This ensures the sitemap will always be up to date.
- Additional pages– This is advanced stuff. I never use it and you’d probably won’t ever need to. It gives you the option it to add any URL that exists outside of your WordPress-based website.
- Excluded items-This setting allows you to exclude individual pages and categories . You exclude categories by checking them(there’ll be a list of all categories that divide you content). As for posts, you need to enter individual url’s separated by commas.
I don’t think this is useful at all. Because Google’s goal is to index all content on the web. Even if you exclude something Google will eventually find it. Note. If you don’t want something indexed you can set it easily with All in One SEO. Learn how.
- Priorities– Tell Google what type of content is of highest priority to you. For me, it’s my posts, followed by my homepage(blogroll) and then taxonomies. So my posts are set to 1.0(100%priority), blogroll to 0.5(50%) and taxonomies at 0.4(40%). Don’t let these numbers confuse you, Google will decide on its own. These are hints at best.
- Frequencies– Make sure to match your posting schedule. The exception is if you’re getting comments ever day. Then you set it to daily
“Why can’t I just set all to highest frequency”? Because if you do Google will obey, at first. What I mean is, it will stop by several times and when it doesn’t find anything new to index it will come by less often. Then, when you do publish a new piece and your sitemap pings Google it won’t come right away. Remember the story “the boy who cried wolf”? Don’t be that proverbial liar 🙂
- Click Update Sitemap and you’re done 🙂
To view, you sitemap go to the top of the page a click on “view your sitemap”
And here is what mine looks like:
How to Add a Sitemap in Google Webmaster Tools
You made it. 😀
It wasn’t easy but you pulled though. You learned a lot, worked a lot and now is the time to knock back and have a cold one, right?
Set your beer aside, it’s time to submit a sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools (nowadays rebranded to Google Search Console).
You need to do it as I’m sure it won’t submit itself.
But it’s a breeze:
- Return to your sitemap file and copy the sitemap.xml extension(like you saw from the image above)
- Go to Google Search Console
- Click on Crawl
In the upper right, the is a test/submit red button. Paste the sitemap.XML and click test
Make sure it says “no errors found”
- Now repeat what you just did and this time click “Submit”
Google now knows abut it and is bound to come for a visit. Make sure you’re cordial with it, even if you hate spiders- trust me. 😀
Note. When you first submit a sitemap it will say “pending”. And it will stay like that for a few days. That’s normal with all new sites so don’t freak out. When I first submited a sitemap it was pending for full five days- it almost left me a nervous wreck.
My advice-Go about your business and check on it a few days later.
How to Submite a Sitemap to Bing Webmaster Tools
Submiting sitemap to Bing is very similarr to ubmiting to google th only real diffence is that you have ot copy the enrite url of your iste map and not just “sitemap.xml” extension.
So do it and then:
- Go to Bing Webmaster Tool
- Once inside click on configure my site» sitemap
- Paste and click “submit“.
Note. Bing is even slower than Google so expect it to take at least a week, or more.
Conclusion- Building and Submiting an XML Sitemap- A Piece of Cake For a Pro Like You 😎
There you go, friend.
I bet you came into this post full of doubt whether you’ll be able to build an XML sitemap. Now you go beaming with confidence that you will.
I need you to do something for me.
Submit a sitemap today and then measure the results.
Take a note beforehand- how many pages do you have indexed in Google? And then check back once every week for the next month.
I thing every week you’ll see a sharp jump compared to the previous.
When you do, suddenly it’ll all make sense and you’ll understand why an XML sitemap is the biggest wasted potential for too many website owners, and why it’ll never again be wasted for you.
In fact, I’ve given you the knowledge to turn it into your greatest (and cheapest) weapon.
Thank you for reading.
I think you’re awesome.
If you have a question, something I missed, something you’d like to add, do it below. Thank you.
Also, if I have helped you, please consider sharing this page with your firneds- it helps me a lot, thank you 🙂
Have a nice day ,
and I, Nikola, am signing out.