A sitemap is like a GPS system for search engines to easily find the content inside of your website which helps with search engine optimization.  If you have a new site or a really big site, search engines may not find all the pages in the your site easily. Your sitemap acts like a guide — speaking in “browser talk” and keeping the search engines up to date on what’s on your site.

We work in WordPress so our clients can update and manage their sites on their own.  So a good sitemap isn’t one that you have to manually update, it needs to update itself with all the content you add to you site and cue the search engines into all the goodness they’re publishing.

How to Install a Sitemap on a WordPress Site

1. First you’ll login to your admin section, generally located at: https://yourdomain.com/wp-admin.

2. Once inside the WordPress site, you will want to go into the plugins and download a sitemap generator — we usually use a plugin called sitemap generator by Marco Beierer. It is usually on the first page and has a green icon with a flowchart on it. You don’t have to use this one, though. You can download the plugin of your choice.

how to submit a sitemap on search engines - sitemap generator by Marco Beierer

3. Then click on the Sitemap Generator link that just appeared in the left navigation on your admin screen.   

4. Click the blue “Generate Your Sitemap” button. If you get this error:

how to submit a sitemap on search engines - generate your sitemap button

Go to: Settings > Reading and uncheck the “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” box. If you’re trying to submit a sitemap, you DO want people to find your site. Then click the blue “Save Changes” button.

how to submit a sitemap on search engines - screenshot of where to uncheck box to discourage search engines from indexing your site

Then go back to Site Map Generator and click the blue “Generate Your Sitemap” button again.  

How to Submit Your Sitemap to Google

Now you can head over to Google Search Console to submit your sitemap.

1. Login to Google Search Console.

2. Click the down arrow under the Google Search Console logo then click the “+ Add Property” button.

how to submit a sitemap on search engines - add property in Google Search Console

3. Copy your website’s URL and paste it into the URL prefix field.

how to submit a sitemap on search engines - paste domain into URL prefix field

4. Verify ownership of your site however you can.

how to submit a sitemap on search engines - verify ownership of site in whichever way possible

We are usually doing this after we have installed Google Analytics, so we find that’s the fastest verification method.  If you don’t have Google Analytics and you’re trying to get more traffic to your website, you probably ought to set it up.  It will tell you more information than you ever wanted to know about what people are doing on your site — and it’s free!

how to submit a sitemap on search engines - auto verification through Google Analytics account

5. Once your site is verified, click on “Go to Property,” then click on “Site Maps” in the left navigation. 

how to submit a sitemap on search engines - select Site Maps on left navigation

6. Enter the extension for your new sitemap, then click the blue “Submit” button.

how to submit a sitemap on search engines - add a new sitemap in Google

Voila!  You are done!

How to Submit Your Sitemap to Bing

Now let’s head over and do the same thing on Bing.  I know, I know… It’s antiquated and weird — but some people do still use it, and those people might be important to you.  It won’t take very long, so stop complaining and let’s do this!

1. Go to Bing Webmaster Tools and sign in or sign up.

2. Since you’re already set up on Google Search Console, you can just import. Click the teal “Import” button in the upper right.

how to submit a sitemap on search engines - click teal Import button in upper right to import sitemap in Bing webmaster tools from Google Search Console

3. Click “Continue to Search Console.”

how to submit a sitemap on search engines - click to continue to Bing Search Console

4. Login under the same Google account that owns the sitemap you just set up in Google Search Console.

How to submit a sitemap on search engines - choose a Google account to connect with Bing

5. Click “Allow.”

how to submit a sitemap on search engines - allow Bing.com access to Google account

6. Select the site with the sitemap you want to import and click “Import.”

how to submit a sitemap on search engines - import from Google Search Console to Bing

If the import was successful, you’ll see this “Congratulations!” message:

how to submit a sitemap on search engines - import success message from Bing

And that’s all there is to it!  Now you’re ready to go, and search engines can find all the content on your site.  If you have a really huge site, you may need to submit more than one sitemap. But odds are good if you’re reading this article, that’s likely not the case.  Before I leave you, here are just a few more troubleshooting tips:

  • Check back in Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster tools after a few days to make sure everything is working as planned.
  • If you just took your site live and are attempting to submit a site map or verify the site sometimes there’s a weird lag.  Check back in 24 hours to see if the site was verified and then try submitting your sitemap again.
  • If you have a caching plugin you’ll want to clear your cache before you submit the site map.
  • If you get this error again after unchecking the ‘Discourage search engines from indexing this site’ box. Either your site is cached or Google is cached.  There’s not a quick fix for this. Try to generate your site map again after 24 hours.

Happy sitemapping!

More about the Author

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Monica Pitts

Monica is the creative force and founder of MayeCreate. She has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with an emphasis in Economics, Education and Plant Science from the University of Missouri. Monica possesses a rare combination of design savvy and technological know-how. Her clients know this quite well. Her passion for making friends and helping businesses grow gives her the skills she needs to make sure that each client, or friend, gets the attention and service he or she deserves.

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