WordPress Tips: Why I Love Google XML Sitemaps

In Tuesday's Tech Talk I explained how mapping out the content for your site can help you get organized and present your content in the best light possible. Today, I'd like to talk about the more tech side of sitemaps, in terms of how an XML file can actually help your organic search results with Google. Before you get nervous about this mysterious XML file structure let me tell you everything you need to know about creating a sitemap for your WordPress site with Google XML Sitemaps:

Creating a sitemap takes 2 minutes with this plugin.

In fact, if you go with their standard settings you can have a sitemap generated in about 30 seconds. OK, now you can breath a sigh of relief.

Here's why I love this plugin: if gives you enough control over your sitemap that you can really tailor it specifically to your site, but not so much so that you're overwhelmed by all of the options and not sure what will be best for your site.

In my mind, the top three things about Google XML sitemaps are:

  • You can exclude certain pages, categories and tags.
  • You can determine the crawl frequencies by page/post type.
  • You can use comment counts to determine post priority.

Once you generate a sitemap with this plugin, your map will (most likely) live at your URL + sitemap.xml. Then, you simply need to log into Google Webmaster Tools and let Google know where your sitemap is located. Pretty cool right?

Here's something else to know about sitemaps: Google will index/crawl your site with or without them. And, Google will not necessarily listen 100% to what your sitemap asks/tells. What your sitemap is doing is telling Google what you think is most important, what should and should not be indexed and how often you suggest certain parts of your site be crawled.