When setting up a new website, one of the most important things to consider is how well your site will rank on search engines. Arguably the most influential of these is Google. Having a Sitemap is one of the first things Google instructs a webmaster to do (it’s good practice anyway) and Google Sitemaps Generator will create one for you, ping Google when you update, and generally keep your site more optimized for search engines.
This guide will show you how to install the Google Sitemaps Generator on your WordPress website.
- Download and unzip the Google Sitemaps Generator Plugin. The plugin website also has lots of information about what new features are included in the latest version and how to stay up to date with new releases.
- Open up your FTP to your wp-contents/plugins folder. You will want to drop the contents of the zipped file you downloaded in step one into your site directory here.
- Copy the plugin to your FTP. If you haven’t done so already, do it.
- Log in to your WordPress Dashboard. Kind of a necessary step, don’t you think?
- Navigate to Plugins. Good thing I’m here to direct you, or you’d be lost!
- Activate the Google Sitemaps Generator.
- Navigate to Options>Sitemap. This is where we will configure and create your sitemap.
- Read over the page. Most of the instructions are very nicely laid out, cut and dry. It shouldn’t be hard to determine what options are best for you: only you know your own setup.
- Give it some time. As with any SEO related issue, time and content is all that separates you from a better search listing. Instead of continually searching for yourself on Google, try writing another post to improve your site. Odds are that will help out and make it worth adding a sitemap to your site.
Using Google Sitemaps Generator to the Fullest
But that’s not all you can do with GSG. Here are a couple ways to enhance your sitemap using this plugin:
- Add other pages if you own other pages that belong with your website. By this I mean that if you are running a blog on a subdirectory, this plugin won’t find that and won’t include it unless you tell it to. Use the directions under Additional Pages to add more if you feel the plugin won’t find them.
- Under Basic Options be sure to check the first and the last boxes. The first will automatically configure the priority of posts based on the comment count. Of course if you don’t want this, un-check it (but why wouldn’t you?). The last option will make the plugin auto-ping Google each time you update your site. Brilliant!
- Keep your sitemap named sitemap. Don’t be so creative with it that Google can’t find it: that’s the whole point. The sitemap needs to be very accessible. In other words: leave that option alone.
- Keep your priorities fair. I won’t claim to be an expert at all, but I would say that by ranking each element of your website a 1.0 will actually degrade your content in the eyes of Google. Be fair. If your homepage is the most important page, keep it at 1.0. If your archives are, then switch them around. But don’t go so crazy ranking yourself high that you wash out the quality of the sitemap.
For any questions regarding this tutorial or the setup process, feel free to ask here. Otherwise, for specific plugin questions, direct them over to the official Google Sitemaps Generator Plugin page and ask there.