XML Sitemap Creation Process & Optimisation

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    Are you looking to get a sitemap up and running, or complete a thorough audit for your existing sitemap?

    Then look no further!

    Increase the crawlability of your website by making it easier for search engines to go through your website’s sitemap by following our step-by-step instructions. 

     

    Top Tips 

    #1 – To successfully complete the final section of this blog relating to Google Console, you will already need to have this up and running. 

    #2 – You will need to have this WordPress plugin (if applicable) installed and running on your website: Yoast SEO. 

    Benefits 

    • By the end of this blog (if you have followed all the steps),then you will have a sitemap submitted to Google. 
    • When you have a sitemap up and running for your website, you can ensure that search engine crawlers are able to find and crawl through your website content with ease. 

     

    Sitemap Design 

      1. You will need to have all of the URLs that are listed on your website.
        • In the event that you already have a sitemap in place, you will need to audit this version. 
        • If you have website that uses WordPress, then ignore this section of the blog and go the section: “Are You A WordPress User?” 
        • If you are a customised platform user or have no content management system in place and you do not have a URLs list, then you’re going to need to request one from the relevant body. 
      2. Open this spreadsheet – Sitemap Spreadsheet and make a copy for yourself. 
        • Input your website’s URLs into this sheet: “Audit Sheet For Sitemap”. 
      3. You will need to go through all of the URLs and decide whether you are intending to add it to the sitemap. 
        1. If you are not, then give a reason why.
        2. If the following guidelines are met, then mark it as “Yes”:
          1. A robots.txt.file is not blocking the URL 
          2. There are not various URLs which direct you towards content that has been duplicated. 
          3. The URL is not directing users towards sensitive data. 
          4. In the case that the URL is not leading to a generated file or page which holds no relevance. 
          5. Any URL which does not need to be indexed or holds no relevance to search engines or prospects should not be included on the sitemap.
      4. Go through each of the URLs that you have chosen to be in the sitemap and outline a “Frequency” and “Priority”. 
        • Priority 

    This will be a value between 0.1 to 1, this is when compared to the other web pages.

          • 0.1 – Low priority
          • 1 – Higher priority 

    To gain a deeper understanding of priorities, you will need to go through your business’s URLs, and pinpoint those which are valuable to search engines as well as users. By default, the value will be 0.5.

      • You don’t have to spend a lot of time on this – if you don’t know how best to prioritise the different URLs, then we’d advise setting them to 0.5 – this will just mean that all pages are viewed as equally important. 
        • Frequency 

    This is how often you would like your URL to be crawled by spiders – be aware that this is your suggestion, this is not a command for the spiders to follow. 

          • Consistently

    This is an option you should only choose in the event that the URL alters each time it is utilised – i.e. because it is constantly updating. 

          • Never 

    In the event that your URL content has been archived and so will never need to be updated, this is what you would choose. 

          • Every Hour/Everyday/Every Week/Every Month/Every Year

    If the content is updated on one of these basis, then select that option. 

     

    Sitemap Generation

    Using a CMS?

    In the event that you are using a well-know Content Management System then you will either have the ability to set up a Sitemap using the software or have an extension in place which can allow you to create the sitemap. 

    • You need to be aware that the details in this blog are relevant for WordPress only. 

     

    Have a custom site?

    If you have a custom site, or you do not have a content management system in place, then you will need to open up the spreadsheet. You’re going need to filter all of your website’s URLs – choose those which need to be displayed on the sitemap. 

    1. Using Google Chrome, you will need to open this page on Time Stamp Generator
    2. To begin, you’re going to need to transfer the spreadsheet URLs into the generator for the XML sitemap, taking into account “Priorities” and “Frequencies” which you outlined on the design of your Sitemap. 
    3. Now you will need to select “Add to Queue” – continue to do until all the URLs have been added based on their Frequencies and Priorities. 
    4. Before you have selected “Add to Queue”, make sure that the URLs that are in the text input box already have been deleted – if you don’t then they will be added to your sitemap more than once. 
    1. Follow these steps:
      • Copy the URL groups from the spreadsheet. 
      • The URL group needs to be added to the queue. 
    2. Once all of the URLs have been added, you will just need to select the “Create Sitemap” button. 
      • Now the browser will begin to download the XML sitemap. 
      • The file will be labelled “sitemap.xml” – if this isn’t the name that appears, then this is the name you will need to give it. 
    3. The XML sitemap will need to be uploaded to your domain root. 
      • In the event that you have a “Robots.txt” file, then you will need to include this snippet in the file:
        1. Ensure that you input your actual domain name rather than “yourdomain”. 
        2. If you are not able to upload the file to the server, then you will need to email the person responsible for managing the website and request that they do so. 
    1. Now your sitemap is all ready for submission – whenever you want to add more URLs to your site, you will need to complete this process once again. 

     

    Are you a WordPress user? 

    Then these are the steps that you need to follow:

    1. Make sure that you have this plugin installed on your website: Yoast SEO 
    2. Find “SEO” on the admin panel of WordPress, and then select the “XML Sitemaps” option. 
        • In the event that this option doesn’t appear for you, you will need to select these in the following order:
          1. “SEO”
          2. “Dashboard”
          3. “Features”  
          4. Now select “Save Changes” 
    3. Ensure that “XML Sitemap Functionality” is on. 
    4. Now you need to select “User Sitemap” and ensure that “Author/user sitemap” has been enabled – relevant if you find that the website has numerous authors, and you need Google to be able to index these authors’ content separately with ease.
    5. Select “Post Types” 
        • Posts  – If you have decided that you want your blog posts on your sitemap, keep this in. 
          • We would advise leaving the default option as it is. 
        • Pages – This should stay in the sitemap, unless you have decided that you do not want blog posts to be displayed on the sitemap.
          • We would advise that you do leave the pages on your sitemap. 
        • Media – This attachment is not something you’d traditionally have on your sitemap. However, this does not mean that the media will not be indexed by search engines. This is relevant to the pages that WordPress generates whenever new media has been uploaded. 
    1. Select “Excluded Posts” – In the event that you are in the process of designing the sitemap and you have identified pages or posts which needed to be excluded from the sitemap, then their ID will need to be inputted into the “Posts to exclude” field. 
      • Here is what you need to do so you can find the post or page’s ID:
        • Select “Posts/Pages” 
        • “All Posts/Pages” 
        • Choose the blog/page that you’re intending to exclude from the sitemap. 
        • By looking at the browser URL, you will be able to pinpoint the ID by seeing the number, after which there is “post=”
    2. Now you must select “Taxonomies”.
      • If these features are used: “category” and “tag”,  then you will need to leave the options at their default setting. Whereas, if you are not intending to use them, then you just need to disable them. 
    3. After you have altered all the settings as needed, make sure to hit the “Save changes” button. 

     

    Sitemap Submission In Search Google Console

    1. Start on this Web Master Tool
    2. Make sure that you have logged in with the relevant Google account – in the event that you have more than one website, then you are going to click the right website property. 
    3. You need to click “Sitemaps” from the sidebar. 
      • If you are currently using an outdated version of Google Search Console, then you will need to select “Try the new Search Console”. 
    4. Beneath the “Add a new sitemap” section, you will need to input the sitemap’s file name. If you used the Yoast SEO plugin, then you will need to add this after the domain name of your site: “sitemap_index.xml” and then make sure to hit the “Submit” button. 
    5. Now you just need to select the “Got it” button. 

     

    And you’re done!

    If you have followed this correctly, then you will see that the sitemap has successfully submitted to Google. In the event that this does not happen, you will see this error that says: “Couldn’t fetch”. 

    Thanks for reading! 

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