What Are Sitemaps And Why Are They Important?

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Illustration of website structure for image to article answering what are sitemaps

What are sitemaps?

Quite simply put, a sitemap is a list of the pages that make up your website. Essentially, it is what it sounds like: a map of pages to your website. It shows the pages that are on your website, telling search engines about the organization of your site content and making it easier for them to find.

Why do search engines need to find you?

That’s because you want to be found by other people, and have as much traffic to your site as you can. If you have a large website, a new website, or a website with a lot of content, it will be imperative for you to have a sitemap. You could be online for months before getting traffic to your website if you do not have a sitemap.

How do you create the sitemap in WordPress?

Yoast SEO plugin works great for this. You install the plugin and then go to the features tab. Change the “Advanced settings pages” to “Enabled” and save the changes.

After enabling, select the additional option in the SEO sidebar to the left: “XML Sitemaps”. “XML sitemap functionality” needs to be set to “enabled” as well. This is how you set up a sitemap. In order to see your sitemap, click the “XML Sitemap” link. But wait, you are not done yet!

Who, When, and Where do you need to send your sitemap link to?

Okay, we created our sitemap but we have more to do. You also need to submit it to Google through the Google Search Console.

You will need to create a login for your Google, or simply log in if you have a Gmail or Google account already.

  • Next, point your web browser to google.com/webmasters/tools/home
  • Type or paste this address in the URL to your homepage next to the box that says “Website”, then click add a property button.
  • Click on the button “HTML Tag radio”
  • Click on the Meta tag to highlight it and copy it to the clipboard.
  • Next, go back to your WordPress dashboard in a new tab or window.
  • Click Jetpack, then settings.
  • Click the Engagement link from across the top of the page and slide the slider next to the Site Verification to Activate it.
  • Click the down arrow and, in the Google box, paste in the Meta tag you copied from the Google Search Console.
  • Click the verify button. You may need to wait a while, perhaps an hour or so. You will know you have completed the task when you see the Congratulations message. When this happens, click the continue link.

If you see the “Verification failed” when trying the “Meta tag” verification, then you can try the “HTML file upload” verification method instead. This method requires you to be familiar with FTP.

Be sure to repeat the previous steps for different versions of your website. This can be a pain, but is essential for your efforts to bump up to the top of the Google SERPs.

Hopefully, these steps get you off on the right foot towards getting more traffic to your website after asking yourself “What are sitemaps?” If you want to increase the visibility of your site to consumers, you can count on OCGnow to help optimize your website for enhanced search engine performance. Give us a call at (904) 600-3600 today.

This post was originally published on 3/3/2020 and updated on 3/8/2022 for accuracy and a larger scope of information.

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