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Lesson 13 – Part 1 – Create a Sitemap

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Well good morning everybody and welcome to Lesson 13 of How To Build A Professional Website Using WordPress and Thesis 2. What we’re going to be talking about today is how to integrate your site with Google. You probably all know that Google has a bunch of free tools that make managing site vitality and search engine stuff easier. And all of that starts off with creating a site map.

Using Google XML Sitemaps

So we’re going to come over to our site and let’s see, we have Lesson 12 here. What we’re going to do is download, install and configure Google XML Sitemaps.

Somebody recently wondered whether or not Google XML Sitemaps was still a good plugin to use. And for the kind of site we’re doing, I think Google XML Sitemaps is a perfectly acceptable plugin to use.

On my site, I actually use a different plugin but that’s because of all the custom post types and custom taxonomies I have. And I need to have more control over things than Google XML Sitemaps offers. But we are going to be using Google XML Sitemaps for this.

Install and Activate Google XML Sitemaps

So what we’re going to do is come over here to Plugins and installed plugins. And we’re going to select Add New and we’re going to search for Google XML Sitemaps. So this is the one we’re going to install right here, by Arne Brachhold. Install now, activate the plugin.

Google XML Settings Recommendations

Now we’re just going to come over here to Settings and you can see there’s this XML Sitemap Setting. So we’re going to step through the options here real quick and then we’ll generate our sitemap and verify that it exists.

Basic Options

So we want to write a normal XML file and we also want to write a gzipped file which is fine. We’re going to rebuild the sitemap every time we change content. Although we’re not going to enable the manual sitemap building.

We’re going to notify Google about updates. We’ll notify Bing and we’re going to add the sitemap to our virtual robots txt file. So this is going to be a file that’s generated by WordPress that just has the sitemap in the address in that robots txt file. Now that’s really for other crawling engines, it’s not really for either Google or Bing.

We’re going to skip over all of these advanced options because they really apply to things that are sort of outside the scope of what we’re working on. But we are going to build a sitemap in the background process.

Additional Pages

You can come here and add pages, especially if for some reason you’ve got a static HTML pages that’s aren’t inside of the scope of WordPress that you want to add. You can do that here but we don’t have anything like that so you don’t have to worry about it.

Post Priority

We can use priority calculation. It uses comment count as priority but I’m not going to use automatic priority calculation so I’ll turn that off. If you’ve got a blog with lots of comments, that’s fine. But in terms of an ordinary small business website, I wouldn’t bother with that.

Location of Your Sitemap File

And then the location of the sitemap is just going to be automatic sitemap.xml. You could choose a custom location so you could change it to my sitemap xml or something like that. But we aren’t going to do either of those two things. We’re going to use automatic detection. And there’s no reason to name anything other than sitemap xml.

Sitemap Content

And then in terms of our sitemap content, we’re going to include our home page. We’re going to include our posts. We don’t have multi page posts and there’s no reason for us to bother with checking this. We’re definitely going to include all of our static pages. And now here’s the opportunity you have to choose whether or not you’re going to include categories and archives and that kind of stuff.

You can actually choose to include these taxonomies but what happens is that your posts get indexed twice. Now, Google’s pretty good at sort of resolving the duplicate content issues. But if you have a blog and you’re using categories extensively and you are putting introductory content in those categories and if you are and you know who you are, I would include categories.

If you aren’t, and this is just a standard, ordinary WordPress website for a standard small business site, then I would not choose include categories. It’s not going to change what gets indexed because as long as you’re indexing your posts and your pages, all of your content will get indexed. But what this does is allows you to take advantage of the additional things that Thesis provides for categories, if you’re actually using them that way.

You definitely don’t want to include archives. You could choose to include author pages if you’ve got a large blog with different authors. But otherwise, no author pages, no tag pages. You can choose to include custom post types.

In this case, the only custom post type we have is slides and that was created by our slider. There’s no reason for us to index those slides so we won’t include that. But we will include the last time any of the posts or pages were modified.

Excluded Items

You can also choose to exclude things. So you can exclude categories. We’re going to exclude uncategorized because the Hello World post won’t get indexed that way since it’s in the category of uncategorized.

We could also choose to exclude posts by post id. And again, post id 1 is the Hello World post so I’m going to include that too.

Change Frequencies

And then under Change Frequencies, really, we’re just going to leave this stuff alone. So we can say that the home page changes daily. That’s especially the case if the home page is a blog page. But I think I’m just going to leave all of this alone, I generally do leave it alone.

Priorities

Again, in terms of priorities, I let the home page be the priority of one, Post is 6. The static page is a 6. If you checked categories then categories being 3 is fine. And so really, you don’t have to change very much in these settings in order for it to work.

Update Options

Let’ update options. And if you just updated your options, you’ve updated your configuration.

Generate the Sitemap

Now notice up here that you’ve got a little message that says, “The sitemap wasn’t generated yet.” And you’re really only going to see this the first time. But if you click here, it’s going to build it the first time.

Donate to Support Free Plugins

I’d also like to draw your attention over here to About this Plugin and donate with PayPal. This is something I meant to talk about in the past but I’ve just failed. But many of these plugins that your website absolutely depends on are supported through donations. And I encourage you to participate, to send somebody $5 or $10 or whatever you think is worth.

But periodically, look at those plugins that you got free and that you depended on and make a donation to people who created it. Don’t feel like you have to do that with my stuff of course, because you already pay for my stuff. But lots of these things on here are free.

Review Built Sitemap

And so once we’ve done that, we’ll come over here to Click Here to Build the First Time. And now our sitemap should be built. It says the sitemap was built at 5:14pm. That’s kind of funny because it’s 9:14 am here. But nevertheless, it was built and it took less than a second.

And we’re going to go double check now to make sure that that exists by coming over here and typing in the address, sitemap.xml. And here’s our sitemap. It’s got all of the posts and pages that we created and it’s got the last date things were changed. And so we have successfully created the sitemap.

Now that we’ve created the sitemap, it’s time to create a Google account.

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