I left the corporate world 5 years ago prior to launching Web Strategic Marketing and in that time I have not yet met a single client who has used either Google Webmasters or Bing Webmasters to manage their web sites. In this post I will focus on using Google Webmasters to manage you site’s sitemaps. (The process is identical for Bing Web Masters)
To maximize a web site’s SEO each site should have at least one sitemap.xm file. Sitemaps are an easy way for webmasters to inform search engines about pages on their sites that are available for crawling. In its simplest form, a Sitemap is an XML file that lists URLs for a site along with additional metadata about each URL (when it was last updated, how often it usually changes, and how important it is, relative to other URLs in the site) so that search engines can more intelligently crawl the site. You read about the sitemap.xml standard here.
You can generate sitemaps.xml for your site by using:
- For HTML sites http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/ (If you manage multiple site I highly recommend using the Unlimited Sitemap Generator which can be purchased for $19.99)
- For WordPress I recommend using the Yoast (now called SEO for WordPress) plug-in
Once you have created your sitemap open a Google Webmasters account (this can be use to manage many aspects of your website’s health but today we are just discussing sitemaps) and then ‘Add your site’. You site will need to be verified. Upon verification, you can add your sitemaps. If your site map generator creates multiple sitemaps such as:
…then submit all of them. On WordPress you can register your Webmasters account with the Yoast Plug-in and it will notify Google automatically.
In the attached image, you can see seven sitemaps for a new website and the webmasters account shows the status of the site: how many pages were submitted on the sitemap and how many pages were indexed. This is the only way you can see the progress of indexing a new site and is very useful when having that awkward conversation with a client one week after publication of a new site…..”Why is my site not showing up on Google” Well. if the pages are not indexed they will not show up and you now have a graphical representation of the site’s indexed status which you can share with the client.
I recommend resubmitting your sitemaps after every site update. As soon as I hit publish on this post I will go to Google Webmasters.