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How do I use my Google XML sitemap to improve my site's SEO?

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The second type of sitemap is your Google XML sitemap. Think of it as a way to directly send Google a list of all the pages on your website that you want indexed so it doesn’t have to come and spider them. It will contain all of the listings within the area you set with the SEO Service Area tool. This will take a few minutes to set up, but once you have followed the steps below, this sitemap will stay up-to-date and communicate with Google automatically, with no effort from you. 

Before Google will generate a sitemap, you will need to verify that the site belongs to you. Here’s how:

Sign in to Google Webmaster Tools using the same account information you use to sign in to Google. Click the red “Add a Property” button in the upper right corner.

Enter the URL of your website in the box that pops up, then hit “Continue.”

On the next page, you’ll see two tabs: Recommended and Alternate Methods. In the interest of keeping things simple, we’re going to use one of the alternate methods, so choose that tab. Select the radio button beside “HTML tag” then copy the code provided. You’re going to come back to this page in just a minute, so leave it open. 

In a new tab, log into your site with WordPress. Choose “Appearance” from the menu on the left. Under that, select “Editor.” You’ll see a list of Templates down the right side of your screen. Select “Header.”

You’ll see a lot of code in the center box. Don’t worry if you don’t know what it means. Find “</head>” in the text. Paste the code that you copied from Google Webmaster Tools right before “</head>” then click “Update File” at the bottom of the screen.

Now head back to the Google Webmaster tab that you left open and click the “Verify” button. Now that Google knows you are the owner of the site, you can add the XML sitemap link.

Select your site on the Webmaster Tools home page. From the left-hand menu, select “Crawl” then “Sitemaps.” Click the red “Add/Test Sitemap” button. It will ask you for a link. To get that, you’ll have to go back to your WordPress admin one more time. You’re almost finished!

From your site’s WordPress admin, click “Showcase IDX” in the left-hand menu. When you do this, you’ll see the URL for the XML Sitemap displayed. Copy the part of the URL after the slash mark in your site’s name.

Go back to Google Webmaster tools and paste the section you copied into the pop-up box that opened when you clicked “Add/Test Sitemap” a minute ago. Click “Submit Sitemap” and you’re all set!

It may take as long as a few days for the sitemap to appear here and start functioning, but once it does, it will communicate automatically with Google with no extra effort from you.

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