02 October 2011 ~ 6 Comments

How to add Google Sitemaps to your WordPress blog

In this tutorial you will learn how to automatically generate and submit a sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools from your WordPress installation.

Once your site is up and running you might want to take some steps to optimize the site for search engines so you could get some more traffic. But before you start learning about SEO (search engine optimization) you should first measure the results you got and analyze your status. Without measuring, any optimization effort is prone to failure – you should be able to check if it has any effects.

There are more tools you could use to analyze your traffic, including some very good free ones offered by Google: Analytics and Google Webmaster tools. Google Webmaster Tools is especially important because not only that you can learn more about your site, including which pages are in the Google index, crawling stats, popular search queries, sites linking, but by submitting a sitemap with all your site pages you can increase the number of pages that Google indexes.

Add your site to Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools are available here. Click on “Sign in to Webmaster Tools” button and use your Gmail email address to sign-in/sign-up.

Google Webmaster Tools

After login, in the Dashboard page, click on the “Add a site” button.

Add a site to Google Wemaster Tools

In the pop-up that opens, add the URL of your site (for example www.mysite.com)

Add site URL to Google Webmaster Tools

The next step is to verify the ownership of the site; basically you should upload a file to your site and Google verifies it.

Verify site to Google Webmaster Tools

You should download the HTML verification file, then upload it to your site. In the screenshot below I’m using Total Commander to upload the file to the site root. In the left panel I have the file I have downloaded from the Google Webmaster Tools and in the right panel I have connected via FTP with the server. To upload the file, I select it on the left side and click on F5.

Upload verification file to Google Webmaster Tools

After upload the file, go to Google Webmaster Tools interface and click on “Verify”. If everything is ok, the Dashboard should look something like in the screenshot below. But wait! There is no data! That’s the moment we should generate a sitemap and submit it to Google.

No data to Google Webmaster Tools

WordPress plugin to generate Google sitemaps for Google Webmaster tools

After a bit of research I found out that the easier way to generate a Google sitemap for a WordPress site is to use a plugin. For this tutorial I used the Google XML Sitemaps plugin that you can download from here. This plugin reads the WordPress database and generates the sitemap files and submits them to the Google Webmaster Tools.

To use the plugin there are a few steps:

  • Upload the plugin to the WordPress plugins folder
  • Activate the plugin in WordPress dashboard
  • Set the plugin options

To upload the plugin with Total Commander in the right panel browse (on the server) to wp-content/plugins folder. In the left panel, double click on the “google-sitemap-generator.zip” file. This will open the archive and you can see the plugin folder inside. Click on F5 to upload the entire folder to the plugins folder on the server.

Upload Google XML Sitemaps WordPress Plugin

Once the plugin files are uploaded, go to the WordPress dashboard and go to the Plugins menu:

Go to plugins in the WordPress Dashboard

Next step is to activate the plugin. Locate the “Google XML Sitemaps” and click on the “Activate” link.

Activate Google XML Sitemaps plugin

Before the plugin starts generating the Sitemap files, you should upload some empty sitemap files. Download the sitemap.xml file and sitemap.xml.gz files and upload them to your site root. Using Total Commander, click F5 to upload the files from the left panel to the site root.

Upload empty sitemap files

After the files are uploaded, you should change the file attributes – the files should be writable by the plugin. Select the files on the server using “Insert” and click on Files/Change Attributes.

Change files attributes

In the pop-up window set the attributes to 777.

777 rights

Google XML Sitemaps plugin options

Once the files are uploaded and the plugin has the rights to write to them, it’s time to set the plugin options. In the WordPress dashboard go to Settings/XML-Sitemap.

Wordpress Settings menu

This will open the plugin options page. The first thing to look after is the Location of the sitemap file. If your WordPress is installed in the site root, the location of the sitemap file should be something like http://www.mysite.com/sitemap.xml If the WordPress is located in a different folder, you should check the sitemap file location.

Sitemap files location

The Basic Options are set by default, but you could have a look and see if you need to change anything.

Sitemap Options

You should also have a look to what content is actually submitted from your blog. Submitting all the content is not necessarily the best option as WordPress generates different views to the same content and submitting everything will mark some pages as being duplicates (duplicate pages are bad for SEO).

Sitemap Content

There are a few other options that you can play with, but I have covered the basics. It’s time to generate the sitemap for the first time. On the top of the page, you can see the sitemap status:

Generate sitemap

Click to generate the sitemap, and if everything is set correctly, the result should look something like in the screenshot below:

Generate sitemap results

Final steps

After generating the sitemap on the server, you should submit the sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools (this should be done only once, as the plugin will submit the sitemap automatically after). Go to the Google Webmaster Tools dashboard and click on “Submit sitemap”. In the pop-up fill in the path to the sitemap file:

Submit sitemap URL

You’re done! In a few days you should get statistics on your site.

6 Responses to “How to add Google Sitemaps to your WordPress blog”

  1. Logo Blog 3 October 2011 at 7:19 am Permalink

    Great Article! you have make this difficult way easier! i was just wanted to add a sitemap, i couldn’t so i just leave it! now i am going to try it again! thanks :)

  2. Mike Guite 13 October 2011 at 8:07 pm Permalink

    Its a great help… all i knew was about the google webmaster and i thought registering there would do all the job.. ! Now i configured it with the plugins and is active.. thanks :)

  3. ajmal 27 January 2012 at 10:29 am Permalink

    Thanks for this tutorial, me added sitemap

  4. jane 14 April 2012 at 3:23 am Permalink

    i know this may sound really dumb but how do i make a page on my wp site that contains the sitemap?


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