Is getting to the front page on Google one of your ambitions for your website? That top spot would be awesome, wouldn’t it?
We all want to be getting loads of visitors from Google (and the other search engines too, of course!), but before that can happen they’ve gotta know your website exists.
Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) is a great free tool that lets you monitor how your site appears in Google’s search results. You can also see info about which other sites link to your website, which pages are the most popular, whether more people are visiting from a computer, tablet or mobile, and more.
One of the most important things you can do with Search Console is to submit your sitemap. This is vital for getting your site included in search results. Google’s robots routinely crawl the internet so they’d probably find your site without doing this. Eventually. But if you want to get into the search results and start getting search traffic now, then you need to submit your sitemap.
Asking Google to crawl your site used to be a two-second job, just by submitting your site’s URL (address) in a simple form. But Google has stopped accepting these public submissions. Presumably there was too much spam being submitted. Now you need to do it via your Google Search Console account.
So today I’ll show you how to connect Google Search Console with your website and submit your sitemap. Let’s go!
How to add Google Search Console to your WordPress site
The first thing you need to do is login to your Google account (or create a new account if you don’t already have one). Now go to Google Search Console and click Start Now.
If this is a brand new account, the Add Property dialog should be showing. If not and you have existing sites listed already in Search Console, click on your list of sites at the top right and choose Add Property (at the bottom).
Enter the full URL (address) of your site exactly as it appears, for example https://www.yourwebsite.co.uk. If your URL uses https or www they need to be included as Google sees https://www.yourwebsite.co.uk as different from https://yourwebsite.co.uk. Click Continue.
You now need to verify your ownership of the site. From the Other verification methods, choose HTML tag. Find the part of the tag called content. Select the string of random characters between the quotation marks and copy that text.
Now go to your website. We’re going to use the Yoast SEO plugin for this next part. If you don’t have that installed, you can download it from the WordPress plugin directory and you’ll find a step by step guide to installing plugins here.
Once Yoast is installed, select SEO from the WordPress dashboard and then click on the Webmaster Tools tab. Paste the verification tag into the Google verification code box and click Save changes.
Head back to Google Search Console and click the Verify button. In a moment you should see a success message.
Submit your sitemap to Google Search Console
Now that you’ve added Search Console to your site, it’s time to submit your sitemap to get Google to crawl your site and add it to search results.
Head back to Google Search Console. In the sidebar, make sure your website is selected from the dropdown list at the top and click on Sitemaps.
If you have any older, out of date sitemaps (you might have one if your site has just been redesigned or gone through big changes to the page structure), delete them. If this is your first website or you’ve just added your Search Console account, then you won’t have any sitemaps showing here.
Enter ‘sitemap_index.xml’ into the Add a new sitemap box and click Submit. Google’s robots will now check it and crawl your site.
‘sitemap_index.xml’ is the sitemap that the Yoast plugin creates for you. If you want to see it, just type that at the end of your site’s URL – eg, it would be https://www.yourwebsite.co.uk/sitemap_index.xml
This is the main sitemap, or Index Sitemap. It shows different sitemaps for each type of content on your site, like one for pages and one for posts.
If you have any custom post types on your website, like a portfolio, you may also see a sitemap for each of those.
You can submit each of those to Google Search Console too if you want, but it’s not essential as Google should find them automatically from the Index Sitemap.
And that’s it!
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