In my post, I am going to show you how to create a sitemap in WordPress. It is free to do and takes a few minutes. Once set up, your XML sitemap updates automatically every time you publish or update a post.
My beginner’s guide takes you through the process from start to finish. I also show you how to submit your sitemap to both Google and Bing.
When I started blogging, I didn’t know what a sitemap was or why you had to have one. Now I know they are important for SEO (Search Engine Optimising), sitemaps help Google understand and navigate your website.
Let’s get started.
- How to get a free XML sitemap for your WordPress blog
- Finding your sitemap in WordPress
- How to submit your sitemap to Google
- How to create a sitemap and submit to Google video tutorial
- You can check when Google last visited your sitemap
- How to get your site indexed in Google video tutorial
- How to submit your sitemap to Bing
- Frequently asked questions
- Neil Patel explains why Yoast is a great plugin
How to get a free XML sitemap for your WordPress blog
The free XML sitemap is included in the Yoast SEO plugin. I use this plugin on all my sites, it is a fantastic tool to have. Yoast has many great features but in this post, I will talk about the sitemap feature.
Let’s install the Yoast Plugin.
How to install the Yoast SEO plugin
To install a plugin on WordPress, hover your mouse over ‘Plugins’ in the menu on the left of your WordPress admin dashboard.
Once you hover over ‘Plugins’ you will get a popup menu. In this popup, select ‘Add New’.
Now you come to the WordPress plugin library.
Type ‘Yoast’ into the ‘search plugins’ box on the top right of the screen.
The plugin we are looking for is on the top-left of this screenshot.
Install and activate Yoast
To get this plugin, click on the ‘Install Now’ link. Once Yoast is installed, the same link will change to ‘Activate’, click on ‘Activate’. After a few seconds, you will see ‘Active’, that means you can now use this plugin.
I have a video tutorial about installing Yoast on my YouTube channel.
How to install the Yoast SEO plugin in WordPress tutorial
Yoast configuration wizard
When you use Yoast for the first time, it will ask you a few questions about your site. This helps Yoast use the ideal settings for your blog.
The Yoast configuration wizard starts off like this.
To make the setup easier for you. Here is a Yoast tutorial from WPCookHouse, he gives an excellent run-through of the configuration wizard.
How to find your sitemap in WordPress
After installation is complete, in your WordPress admin menu, you will see an extra option ‘SEO’. Hover your mouse over “SEO’ you will see a popup menu like this.
From this menu, select ‘General’.
Select the features tab
On this page, select the ‘Features’ tab. Then you come to this set of options.
In this list, there is an ‘XML sitemaps’ option. This is your XML sitemap. Yoast generates your sitemap automatically after installation, it also updates your sitemap every time you make any changes to your content.
To view your sitemap, click on the question mark symbol to the right of ‘XML sitemaps’. Like this.
After you click on the question mark, there are two links. To view your sitemap, select ‘See the XML sitemap’ link.
Your XML sitemap
After you click on this link, your sitemap URL will open in a new tab.
Your sitemap is listed as pages and posts. To view what posts and pages are included in the sitemap, select that link.
Once you have your sitemap, it is time to submit it to Google and Bing.
How to submit your sitemap to Google
To submit your sitemap to Google you need to have a Google Search Console account. If you have not set one up yet, you need to do that first.
Go to the Google Search Console homepage, and sign up for a free account. After you have an account, Google asks you to verify your site.
Once you have your account and are signed in. Your dashboard looks like this.
From the menu on the left, you can see ‘Sitemaps’, click on that and you will come to this page.
Submit your sitemap on Google Search Console
This page allows you to submit sitemaps to Google for indexing. Getting indexed in Google is important for your site because you want Google to show your blog in search results.
To submit, copy and paste your sitemap URL into the box at the top of this page. Remember when we opened your XML sitemap earlier in this post? Copy that URL. Your sitemap URL looks like this.
Paste the URL into the ‘Add a new sitemap’ box, like this. Then select ‘Submit’.
After you submit, Google lets you know that you have submitted your sitemap successfully.
Submit your sitemap to Google once. Google will check your sitemap almost daily.
How to create a sitemap and submit to Google video tutorial
You can check when Google last visited your sitemap
After you click ‘Got it’, you return to this screen.
The second box gives you information about when you submitted your sitemap and when Google came to read it. From my screenshot above, I submitted my sitemap on the 6/2/2019. Then Google came to read my sitemap on the same day, 6/2/2019.
You can also see that the status of my sitemap is ‘Success’ That means Google found my sitemap and was able to read it. If you do not have this message, try resubmitting your sitemap.
Google also tells you how many URL’s they found. In my case, Google found 43. That will be all my posts and pages.
How to get your site indexed in Google video tutorial
How to submit your sitemap to Bing
To submit a sitemap you need a Bing Webmaster account if you don’t have one yet, head over to their homepage using the link above.
The homepage looks like this.
With a new account, you will need to verify ownership of your website.
Once you have an account and have verified your site, your dashboard looks like this.
Halfway down this page on the right, you can see a ‘SUBMIT A SITEMAP’ option, click on that. Then a box will open for you to enter your sitemap URL.
Copy your sitemap URL, paste it into this box, then select ‘Submit’.
After you submit your sitemap, the status will show as pending. This means that Bing has accepted your sitemap but has not read it yet.
Once Bing comes to read your sitemap, pending will change to success, and you will see the date of the last ‘crawl’.
Submitting your sitemap to Google and Bing is important for SEO. The sitemaps help search engines understand your website content and navigation.
You only need to submit your sitemaps to Google and Bing once. Once they have the sitemap URL, they will send robots to check your map for changes.
If Google or Bing have errors analyzing your website, they will send you an error message in your accounts. Therefore, it is important to check your accounts frequently for error messages.
I have had messages from Google in relation to being unable to crawl posts on my site. I have also had issues with images not being mobile-friendly. The error messages give you a chance to fix things that will stop your site from showing in search results.
Navigation is also important for your site if you would like help setting up your menu in WordPress, check out my ‘how to set up menus in WordPress‘ post.
Frequently asked questions
Use the Yoast WordPress plugin to generate a free sitemap for your site. Then go to Google and Bing and submit your sitemap to them.
In the Yoast plugin, you have an option to view your sitemap. From your WordPress admin menu on the left. Hover your mouse over ‘SEO’ and select ‘General’. Once the ‘General’ page has opened, select the features tab. On this list look for XML sitemaps. To the right of this is a question mark, click on the question mark. Once you click on the question mark, you will see an option to view your sitemap.
Yoast updates your sitemap automatically every time you make changes to your website.
I recommend submitting a sitemap to Google, it helps get your site indexed faster.
A sitemap XML is a file, a file that lists posts and pages on your website. This is important for SEO because it lets Google and Bing know what is on your website and where to find it. If Google and Bing can understand what your site content is about, then they can decide what searches are best suited for that site’s posts.
Neil Patel explains why Yoast is a great plugin
Here is a great video from Neil Patel. He explains why Yoast is a great plugin for your site. He also talks about sitemaps and how to create eye-catching titles for your blog posts.
Now you can create a free XML sitemap for your blog and submit it to Google and Bing for indexing.
I have tried to make my beginner’s guide easy to follow. If you could spare a few seconds to let me know what you think, I would appreciate it.
If there is anything I can help you with, let me know in the comments. I know it can feel complicated when you start blogging with WordPress.
I look forward to reading your comments.