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Google Sitemap

If you wanna get higher search engine ranking and get free search engine traffic, now one of the most important things is to make sure that your blog has a valid and working sitemap.

[evp width=”640″ height=”480″]tutorials/wpvideos/google-sitemap.swf[/evp]

Now, with the Google sitemaps plugin, this is really easy to do. From your WordPress dashboard, just search for Google sitemaps. And you’ll probably see a lot of plugins with a very similar-sounding name, but in this example, I’m going to show you how to install Google XML Sitemaps by Arne Brachhold. Okay? So you can either install that automatically from your WordPress dashboard, or you can go to WordPress.org, download the plugin, and upload it via FTP and activate it that way.

So now, I’ve uploaded all the files for the WordPress Google sitemaps plugin. I’m just gonna find it here…and it says here Google XML Sitemaps, so I’m gonna activate Google XML Sitemaps.

So if this is your first time using the XML Sitemap generated for WordPress, then you need to follow the instructions and click on the link here to build your sitemap for the first time.

In most cases, you’ll probably see a message like this – an error message that says, “There was a problem writing your sitemap file. Make sure the file exists and is writable.” And there are many ways to overcome this issue, but the easiest way is to temporarily change the file permissions for the root folder of your WordPress blog. And I’m going to show you it’s pretty easy to do.

So using your favorite FTP program, in this case, I’m using FileZilla, just go to the topmost navigation level of your web hosting account until you see a folder called public_html or www. Now, you can use either of these folders; it’s actually the same thing. So I’m gonna select public_html, and I’m going to right-click and click on File Permissions.

Okay, so it’s very important that you remember what your file permission is before you make the changes. So it’s 755. I’m going to change this to 777. And then I’m going to click on OK. So make sure that later, you change the file permissions back to the original settings. Now that I have temporarily allowed access to the root folder of my WordPress blog by changing the file permissions, then I can go ahead and rebuild the sitemap. And you should see a link here that says ‘rebuild the sitemap manually’. So I’m gonna click on that link.

Okay, so now, my sitemap has been built successfully. I can always download the zip file off my sitemap, or I can just scroll down here; and you can see that there are actually a lot of sitemap options that you can edit. Now, if you don’t know what all these options mean, then you can just leave it as it is because the default setting is already pretty good and pretty optimized to make sure that you get the maximum benefit from using this plugin.

However, let me just go through, in general, how these settings can affect your actual XML file.

So the first thing is you can choose the type of XML files that you want to write, either normal XML file or gzipped file. And you can also choose to notify Google, to notify Bing, notify Ask.com, and also to notify Yahoo!. But if you click on Notify YAHOO, then you need to enter your Yahoo! application ID.

Then if you scroll further down, you’ll see a section that allows you to add additional pages. Now, what this means is that since you are using a WordPress blog and you have installed a WordPress plugin, that plugin will only index or add pages that are contained within your WordPress blog itself. So if you have manually added any other page or content that does not belong to the WordPress blog, and if you want that content to be included in your sitemap as well, then you’ve probably got to click here to add a new page.

And in this section here, you gotta enter the URL – the exact URL to the page – and select the Priority and Change Frequency. The Change Frequency basically means how often this page is updated. If it’s a static page and you don’t ever plan to update it, then you can just click on Never.

So if it’s a static page and you don’t plan on updating it, please do not select Always, because it is a bad idea to keep on submitting your XML file to Google and Bing when there are no real changes to the content itself.

And next, under Post Priority, you can select to prioritize the type of content that is actually included in your sitemap file.

So by default, the posts that receive the most number of comments is determined to be a post that is the most popular, and therefore given the most priority? You can always change that.

And then, if you scroll down, you can actually gift your sitemap a custom name. You don’t have to call it sitemap.xml, but then again, there’s no real reason to change the file name, so we’re just gonna leave it as is.

And if you scroll further down, you can see Sitemap Content. So you can choose to include your homepage, include posts, etc…and if you have a multi-page post, then you can also include page 2, page 3, etc. ‘Include static pages, categories, archives, tag pages, author pages.’ And then include the last modification time.

Again, as I mentioned before, the default settings are pretty much optimized enough, and unless you know exactly what you’re doing, you probably don’t need to mess around with this section here. You can also exclude certain categories, and finally, you can also select the frequency that your homepage and the individual posts are updated.

So your homepage is most probably updated every single day, right? Now, the only reason you would want to change this is if you do not really blog that much or that frequently. So let’s say you add one new blog post a month, then probably you do not want to add your homepage to the XML file every single day, and then you can just select Monthly in here. But for most cases, you can just leave these options as they are. And then finally, you can also select the priorities. Usually, the home page is given the most priority by default, but you can also reduce the priority of your home page, and instead give more priority to individual pages itself.

So if you’re gonna edit this, then make sure you really understand search engine optimization and why you are editing these values here. If you’re not sure, as usual, you can just leave it as it is and this plugin is wonderful, in the sense that all the options here have already been super-optimized for you.