How do you tell search engines which content to index in your website? The answer: sitemaps. A sitemap includes a list of pages found on your website. This ensures search engines know the content on your pages, as well as the URLs that they have yet to discover.

Most website owners think that submitting a sitemap will increase their rankings. The truth is this does not have any bearing on rankings. Submitting a sitemap helps Google navigate your website, which, in turn, results in faster crawling and indexing.

Moreover, this provides Google additional information, such as when you last modified a page and how frequently you update the page. This also helps in identifying sitemap errors on Google Search Console.

Steps in submitting a sitemap:

Generate a Sitemap

This may depend on the platform you are using. For WordPress, install the plugin Yoast SEO to generate your sitemap.

Follow these steps when generating a sitemap on Yoast:

1. Enable XML sitemap functionality on Yoast

2. Decide which pages you want Google to crawl. On Yoast, you can toggle which post type to appear in your sitemap.

3. You can also select the archive pages that will appear in your sitemap.

4. Once you’re done, click on the XML Sitemap button on the General section.

Submit Sitemap

There are two ways you can submit a sitemap to Google:

1. Google Search Console

  • Log into your Google Search Console Account
  • Go to the “Crawl” section and click “Sitemaps
  •  Click “Add/Test Sitemap”. Input the permalink from your generated sitemap.
  • Recommended: click TEST before submitting.
  • If there’s no error, click SUBMIT.

In this section, you can view all the sitemaps you’ve submitted and check their index status.

2. Robots.txt File

  •  Robots.txt File — Locate your sitemap URL. This would usually look like: Add this to your robots.txt file.  

You are now well on your way to optimizing your website.