Let us start at the beginning once you have got your website listed in webmaster tools, the first job is to create a Sitemap of your website. Simply speaking a sitemap is a list of all the pages on your website, it’s important to let the search engines know this, just in case there are pages that the robots can’t find. So Google does learn a lot about your site by this simple process and it doesn’t take long to do so worth a few minutes of your time.

If your website is a WordPress one, then there are tons of plugins that will create a Sitemap for you, but there are also a lot of 3rd party tool that will do this as well. Google provides a very comprehensive list for this purpose, which you can find here.

Rich Content Sitemaps

If your website has a lot of rich content, which we define as images and video, then it’s a good idea to submit a sitemap for this content type as well as the straightforward list of pages.

Looking at video first, there a 5 pieces of information that Google needs before it can make use of the information, these are

  1. title,
  2. description,
  3. playpage URL,
  4. thumbnail URL and
  5. the raw video URL

Once Google has this information it will be able to make your video searchable on Google video.  You can either add the video information to an existing sitemap or create a new one just for your video content.

Similarly with images, the search engines like to return relevant images to users if they are searching for specific graphics. By adding  Google’s image extensions for Sitemaps, you are giving Google more context about the pictures on your website.

Once you have you sitemaps created, is a simple process to upload them to webmaster tools, its best to wait a week then before logging in again to see if there are any errors.

What to look for

If the sitemaps have been created correctly, you shouldn’t have any errors appearing for the sitemap itself. (if you do then here is a list of common ones and ways you can address them) But you might get a few warnings -which could be potentially problematic, so always worth a double check!

Check 1 – Take a look at the number of webpages that you have submitted versus the number of pages that have been indexed. These two numbers should be similar. If you have a lot more submitted than indexed, it may be that you have a problem and that you are actually blocking the search engines from reaching certain pages. This could also be a warning that those pages on your site lack unique content, or perhaps are difficult to find through other links.

Check 2 – Take a look at Sitemap errors and warnings, and do something about them, the fewer errors you have, the more value your sitemap will be to you. Just like the first check, Sitemap errors and warnings may reveal problems with robots.txt, Meta robots tags, duplicate content, or other issues.

Your Takeaway for today

This is simple

  1. Get yourself a webmaster account if you haven’t already got one.
  2. Upload at least a standard sitemap that lists your website pages.
  3. Wait for five days and then check to see if there are errors.

This is quite a ‘technical’ operation, but it will reveal if there are problems with areas of your site that you can then take back to your website developer to get fixed. If you need help with this, you know where we are!