I’ve written before about submitting new content to Google, but there is one tool that in my experience works even better than pinging, and that is the sitemap submission.
You’ve probably heard of sitemaps before. Many large websites use them to give their visitors an overview of how the site is structured.
Well, when this sitemap is in a special format called XML, Google can use it to review your entire site at once.
Setting up the sitemap submission is quite a long process, but it is worth it. If you haven’t done so already, apply for a Google Webmaster Tools account.
We’ll come back to what to do there in a little bit. First, you need to log into a WordPress administrator account.
1. The sitemap is created using a plug-in, so click on “Add new” in the “Plugins” area of the sidebar.
2. Enter “google xml” as the search term and click on “Search Plugins”.
3. Probably the first result will be “Google XML Sitemaps” by Arne Brachhold. Install this by clicking on “Install Now”.
4. Once installed, activate the plug-in by clicking on “Activate Plugin”.
5. Now you need to enter or at least review the settings. To do this, click on “XML-Sitemap” in the “Settings” area of the sidebar.
6. At the moment, you can probably leave the basic settings as they are. Note that the plug-in also notifies Bing and Ask.com about new content. If you have a Yahoo! Application ID it will even notify that site as well!
7. The “Location of your sitemap file” can probably stay the same as well.
8. In the “Sitemap Content” section, you can define which parts of the site will be indexed. You might, for example, want to deactivate static pages from being indexed.
9. You can set the priorities for different parts of the site and how often these are usually updated, in order to help the crawler.
10. Now go back to the top of the page and click on “Click here” to build the sitemap.
11. The chances are, that it will not work. You need to take some further steps first.
12. Open up Windows Notepad and save the empty file as “sitemap.xml” to your hard disc.
13. Now save it as “sitemap.xml.gz”.
14. Using an FTP program, upload both files to the main directory of your blog on the web server.
15. You will then need to tell the FTP program to change the so-called “file attributes”. Note that not all FTP programs can do this so you might need to change to a different one.
16. Set both files to have the attributes “777”.
17. Return to WordPress and click on “rebuild the sitemap”. This time it should work!
18. Now log into the Google Webmaster Tools. Select “Sitemaps” from the “Site configuration” part of the sidebar.
19. Click on “Submit a Sitemap”.
20. Enter the name “sitemap.xml” and click on “Submit Sitemap”.
21. Google will then show that it is processing the sitemap file.
22. A few minutes later, and the sitemap should have been accepted.
Note how not all the URLs on this site were in the Google index. The site has 30 URLs, but only 20 were in the index. Hopefully the crawler will visit those other 10 soon!