By submitting a sitemap for your WordPress.org website to Google, you are essentially providing them with a list of what people will expect to find on your website, whether it be pages, posts or images.
Google will use that list to better understand how to navigate your website when crawling, which is the process of looking over your site to make sure that they are providing up-to-date information within search results.
To be able to submit a site map you will need to have a Google account, along with a verified website ownership on your Google Search Console. Our article on submitting your website to Google explains the process.
Generating a Sitemap
Your WordPress website makes this process easy thanks to a number of plugins that will generate a sitemap for you to submit. This article will explain the process of using the Yoast SEO plugin to provide us with the required sitemap.
If you don’t have the Yoast plugin installed, we’d highly recommend it. Head to ‘Plugins – Add New‘ and search for, install and activate Yoast SEO.
There is a short setup process for Yoast that you should go through at some point, but isn’t a necessity for generating a site map.
You will now find the ‘SEO‘ menu in your WordPress admin sidebar.
If ‘XML Sitemaps‘ isn’t available in the sub-menu under ‘SEO‘, you will need to turn it on by going to the Yoast SEO dashboard and sliding ‘Advanced settings pages‘ to enabled under ‘Features‘
Hit save at the bottom of the page, and you will now be able to find the XML Sitemaps sub-menu for Yoast SEO.
In XML Sitemaps, make sure that the functionality is enabled
Clicking on XML Sitemap under ‘General‘ will open a link to your sitemap page (it’s automatically generated).
Note: you can choose what you want to include and exclude from your website sitemap under ‘Post Types‘.
The sitemap page will be a list of everything on your website, from your pages and your posts to your images or products.
Your sitemap that you will be submitting to Google will be the URL of this page. For Yoast, it will be something along the lines of yoursite.com/sitemap_index.xml.
Submitting Your Sitemap to Google
Head over to your Google Search Console and click on the preferred domain version of your website (you should have provided this when you submitted your website to Google – more info can be found in our article here. Our preferred domain is set as https://thebusinessbible.uk).
Head to ‘Crawl – Sitemaps‘…
…and click the ‘Add/Test Sitemap‘ button.
Simply enter the URL where your sitemap is located (for Yoast just add sitemap_index.xml into the URL box), and hit the submit button.
That’s it! Google will soon crawl your website using your sitemap, and index your pages, posts, images and whatever else you submitted.
Resubmitting Your Sitemap to Google
Google will periodically re-crawl your website using your sitemap to find if there are any new posts etc. Your sitemap generated by Yoast will automatically update as you work on your website, so there’s no need to keep resubmitting your sitemap every time you make a change.
If you add any more pages or make any changes to your website that are critical, you should manually resubmit your sitemap to Google so that they know to crawl your website ASAP.
Head back to the same Sitemaps page on your Google Search Console as when you first submitted your sitemap, and click on that sitemap.
It will take you to it’s own page where you can see a replica of the sitemap generated on your website.
At the top of the page is the ‘Resubmit‘ button. Simply press to resubmit your sitemap to Google.