Search engine crawlers are designed to locate and read the content on your page. Their entire purpose in life is to review every shred of content on the internet and organize it for easy searching.
Google, MSN and all the other search engines are continually reviewing and tweaking their code. The better their search features the more likely you are to use their engine to locate information.
An XML sitemap speeds up this organizational process. Rather then being dependent on outside sources linking to your site, you are giving them the tools to immediately access and catalog your site.
XML sitemaps also include the metadata that is associated with your site. The meddata helps the engines rank your page based on when your site was updated, how frequently it is updated and the importance of each page within your site.
Having a XML sitemap won’t increase your search rankings, but it helps increase your exposure by enabling better crawling on your site.
If you have a new site, preparing and submitting an XML Site map is critical.
Below are two articles with detailed directions on setting up your XML sitemap.
wpbeginner.com – What is an XML sitemap? How to Create a Sitemap in WordPress? – Simple easy to follow directions for adding an XML Sitemap to your WordPress site
webdesign.about.com – What is a Sitemap? – This article shows how to create the code and design your own sitemap without using WordPress plugins.
My first time submitting an XML sitemap took me a few tries to get it right. I discovered later that I was following poor directions. I just submitted my sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools a few minutes ago and it took me less then five minutes using the directions from wpbeginner.
Once you have submitted your map to Google Webmasters revisit the site in a few days and check for crawl errors and crawl stats. It typically check my Google Webmaster account every couple of months to insure everything is still working properly.
Once you have submitted your XML sitemap to Google take a few minutes to submit it to Bing and Yahoo.
You are now on the map!
Photo Credit: Hmomoy