Most of you reading this already understand the impact of search engine rankings.
If you can rank high in Google, more potential customers find your business. The more prospective customers that find you, the more paying customers you should have.
Except most of you are frustrated by search engine optimization (or SEO).
There are actually a lot of little steps (and some big steps) that you need to take to get to the first page in Google.
I’m a firm believer that businesses that have a plan for fixing both the big things and the little things eventually win the long-term SEO battle.
Today’s tip is what I would consider a little thing. But all of the little things add up.
What Are Sitemaps?
According to the most recent version of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, your website should have two kinds of sitemaps — one for Google, and one for your site visitors.
Sitemaps are a list of all the pages and URLs on your site.
The type of sitemap that Google needs is written in a markup language called XML (Extensible Markup Language). If you’re a business owner, you don’t need to understand what this means.
If you have the Yoast SEO plugin installed, this plugin automatically generates an XML sitemap for you. You just need to have your web partner submit to Google Search Console. There’s a tutorial on how to submit the Yoast-generated XML sitemap to Google on this very website.
The other type of sitemap is for your website users and customers. This is a basic HTML list of all your pages, articles, and other URLs on your website. If you link to your Sitemap page in your website footer (the bottom of every page), that satisfies the webmaster guideline for that particular item.
So, most business owners don’t want to hassle with adding pages manually. That gets very time-consuming.
Luckily, there’s a way to automate the adding of new pages to the HTML sitemap. This means every time you publish a new page, it automatically gets added to the Sitemap page of your site.
The plugin I’ve started using for this is called Simple Sitemap. With this plugin, you can add what we call a shortcode to your designated Sitemap page, and any new pages you publish get added to the list.
If you want to only include certain post types, and exclude others, you can alter the shortcode to do that as well.
If you are unsure whether your WordPress site is using either a XML (for search engines) or HTML (for people) sitemap, you can run your site through a free online tool called Varvy. This tool scans for various items that are on the Google Webmaster Guidelines list, and tells you whether you are passing or failing for each item.
One Item On The Checklist
Remember that SEO takes a lot of work, particularly if you’re already buried in search results. Taking care of on-page factors (like adding a HTML sitemap) is just one small piece of the puzzle.
But if you take the time to fix your site-wide factors, these generally don’t need to be fixed again. This is one small step. Make sure you don’t neglect all the other SEO factors that are out there.