Note: If SiteSparker built your site, you can skip the first part of this tutorial and read the Final Steps section.

Setting up the Google XML sitemap plugin (download it) is a great way to ensure that the world’s most popular search engine will continually crawl through your site looking for new content. There are several steps involved in getting this set up, but once it’s running, requires little to no maintenance.

After installing and activating this plugin, open a new browser window and sign up for Google’s Webmasters service. (If you already have a Google account, you can log in with your regular user name/password.) Here are the steps involved:

  1. Click Add a Site (type in the domain name and then continue)
  2. Complete the Verification process (note–we’ll skip the details on this step as there are so many options and Google has helpful instructions)
  3. When verification is done, you will land on the Dashboard. Look for “Submit a Sitemap” on the lower right. Click.
  4. In WordPress, go to Plugins > Google XML Sitemap > Settings (link is right under the description of the plugin).
  5. You’ll see “The sitemap wasn’t built yet.” Click the link to build it for the first time.
  6. Once built, you’ll see “Your sitemap was last built” — copy the “sitemap” link to your clipboard.
  7. Back in the Google page, click the Submit a Sitemap button and paste in the link. You’ll have to delete out your domain name so it’s not in there twice. That’s it! Your sitemap should be feeding in to Google now! If you have any problems you should check the Help sections inside Google’s webmasters tools.

Setting Up Your Sitemaps Plugin – Final Steps

This section is for everyone, including Site Sparker clients because it deals with elements specific to your website. We are going to configure the Sitemap plugin based on your special needs. Note: These Final Steps should be done AFTER you have added all of your main menu items and content. You can always come back to this tutorial once you have added all of your content.

  1. Scroll down to the section Post Priority. Click the first button (“Do not use…”).
  2. Under Sitemap content, you will most likely need to click Categories (but only if you are using Categories a lot in your site structure; this is explained in more detail in the general site structure tutorial).
  3. Excluded items – check to hide sections or pages from Google.
  4. Change Frequences — this should match how often you update your content. Google’s robots will get cranky if you set this to Daily but only update your content once a month.
  5. Set the priorities based on how frequently you update various sections of your site. 1 is highest; 0.1 is lowest priority.
  6. Click Update Options — you’re done!

[videofile]http://sitesparker.com/videos/xml%20sitemap.mp4[/videofile]

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