So you’re not sure if your site is really getting indexed like it ought to. You’ve got a couple of options here. You can:
- Hope for the best :)
- Do something about it!
Experience has taught me that relying on hope to generate results is about as effective as trying to get in shape without lifting a finger.
And since we don’t have a magic pill here, I think it’s best that we try something we know will help our site get indexed by our friends at Google, Yahoo!, and Bing.
Today, you’re going to strike up an ongoing conversation with the search engines by adding an XML sitemap to your soon-to-be-awesome Web site.
How do you generate an XML Sitemap?
Unless you have some experience writing XML, then generating a sitemap to spec would prove to be a real challenge. And even if you were able to pull this off, you’d still have to figure out a way to automate sitemap updates.
As if there weren’t already enough reasons to switch to WordPress, then hopefully you’ll find this one compelling enough to get over that hurdle.
There are WordPress plugins for damn near everything, and if you’re talking about standardized Web site features (such as a sitemap), then I can pretty much guarantee that there’s a plugin out there to solve your problem.
That said, it should come as no surprise that there is an extremely handy plugin available that takes care of our XML sitemap issue. It’s called the Google Sitemap Generator, and you’ll want to download the latest version.
Implementing the Google Sitemap Plugin for WordPress
I’m going to take a leap of faith here and assume you’re familiar with the process of installing and activating WordPress plugins, but if you need help with those details, please check out WordPress hacks 2–5 to see how that process generally works.
Once you’ve activated the plugin, you’re basically good to go. The default settings will work fine for just about every site, but if you’re the type who likes to tinker and tweak every little detail, then the Google Sitemap Plugin options page ought to make you positively giddy.
How the Plugin Works
The Google Sitemap Plugin automagically pings Google, Yahoo!, and MSN Search at regular intervals, notifying them of new content and/or changes to your site. You literally don’t have to do anything in order to make it “work.”
Personally, though, I recommend that you take one extra step and actually link to the sitemap from your home page. For an example, check out the very bottom of this page to see my XML sitemap link.
While I don’t know that there’s any direct benefit from doing so, I link to my XML sitemap for two reasons:
- I want to showcase the fact that I support this standardized format.
- As a reference point (albeit a small one) for this industry, I want to make public all of the “best practices” that I employ so that I may help others do the same.
And I guess ultimately, I do want you to know that I’m talking to Google on a regular basis. Maybe one day we’ll do lunch.