WordPress Beginners Track: Sitemap Plugins

From Austin WordPress Meetup 08.03.10

Request for Additional Sitemap Plugin Information

In the beginner’s track we discussed the use of sitemaps. A common point of confusion is that the term “sitemap” is used interchangeably for two completely different but related functions. The first (and the original) meaning is a visual guide to your users so they can quickly see the organization and overview of your content, in much the same way as the Table of Contents does for a book. The second meaning – and one that came much later in the world of the internet – is one that was created by Google in 2005.

The good folks at Google realized that with more and more sites including embedded links between pages, posts, authors, archives, category and tag pages, and so on, that the search engines were spending a lot of time following links to pages they had already indexed. To help with this they created a file format called a Google Sitemap. This is an XML (eXtensible Markup Language) file that contains information about the content and organization of your website in a way that search engines can understand. While this was designed and used extensively by Google, many other search engines are beginning to use the sitemaps.xml file.

Both types of sitemaps are helpful, but if you do any regular updates you will soon find that maintaining them by hand can get very difficult. Thankfully you don’t have to. There are several plugins for WordPress that will do this for you, but my favorites are “Google XML Sitemaps” located at http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/google-sitemap-generator/ ,  “HTML Page Sitemap” at http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/html-sitemap/ . Both these plugins are easy to install, and the default setting generally work quite well.

To use the Google XML Sitemaps plugin, go to Settings –> XML-Sitemap and click on the link to “Build Site Map”. After that it will automatically update the sitemap and notify the search engines any time you add or update a page or post.

The HTML Page Sitemap requires you to create a page and place the short code [html-sitemap] within that page. When a user clicks on the link to view this page, the plugin will scan your pages and posts and create a nicely-indented Table of Contents for your page. There are options that let you control how much to display and how to format it.

The HTML Page Sitemap is also useful for creating navigation links within a page. Let us say, for example, that you have a parent page about Baseball and sub-pages about game schedules, player stats, and free-agent status. By placing the short code [html-sitemap depth=2 child_of=CURRENT] on the Baseball page, it will display links to the the child pages of Baseball (schedules, stats, and free agents) but not any further down the hierarchy.

In the next article we will discuss specialized sitemaps such as Google XML sitemaps for your News (RSS feeds), Images, Videos, and for Mobile Devices.

Thanks to Nicholas R. Batik, Pleiades Publishing Services, Co. for the above Sitemap Plugin information.

Best Practices Beginners Track 08.03.10

Life After WordPress Installation

The August beginners track addressed how to actually use the WordPress functions to structure site navigation and how to begin building the site with the end in mind. We reviewed how to  use Categories and Tags  to build the ‘silo’ navigation structure and linking stategy to give the search engine spiders clear and distinct paths to follow to improve search engine rankings. The session closed with how to use a site maintenance schedule to keep  your online business on track and making money.

Class outline:

Developing a site map/plan based on the purpose of the site.
How to set up a site structure to match the plan
Explaining  dash board features and functions
Delineating the difference between a page and a post.
How and why to use tags and categories/sub categories
Why Silo content / how it effects search engine indexing
Site maintenance schedule

To view the PowerPoint Presentation, go to:

http://www.slideshare.net/sbatik/word-press-meetup-getting-started

I will post the sitemap plugins we talked about in the next post.

Thanks,

H. Sandra Chevalier- Batik, Pleiades Publishing Services