So you just completed the best blog post that you have ever written in your entire life.
This post will change the course of history and will attract so many people that you might have to upgrade your web hosting services.
It is that good.
You can already imagine all of the clicks that will occur on your affiliate links that you hand selected to appear in the post.
The commissions will come rolling in.
You hit publish and wait.
If a coconut falls off of a palm tree on a deserted island, does it make a sound?
You need Google to know about your page and you need them to know about it right away.
Did you know that there is a way to set up your blog to notify and update Google and the other search engines that your site has new or updated content?
I am going to show you how to set up your website to have this feature and then also show you how to make sure that it is working properly.
This method will completely automate the process so that you can remain focused on your content creation habit.
Let’s get started.
Websites are allowed to create a page or series of pages known as a Sitemap.
The History of the Sitemap
In June of 2005, Google developed a system that would allow website owners to publish a list of links from their site so that Google could better determine the scope and content of a website. This was the birth of the sitemap.
Up until that point, website owners had no way to tell Google or other search engines that a page existed. They had to hope that the search engine spiders would bounce from link to link to find the page.
With the sitemap, it became possible to tell the search engine directly.
It took just over a year for Yahoo and Microsoft to want to join in on the fun. In November of 2006 they agreed upon a protocol for a standard format for sitemaps. The sitemap as we know it today was born.
In April of 2007, IBM and Ask.com joined the party and the rest as we say is history. Large websites started to adapt the sitemap protocol to create sitemaps.
For some websites with thousands of pages, the process of creating a sitemap was laborious to say the least. And if you missed one xml tag or had a mismatched pair of tags the entire sitemap was broken.
Thankfully we don’t have to deal with this on a WordPress Blog Website.
There are plugins that are available that have a sole purpose of creating a sitemap on your WordPress blog.
I have used a couple of these before, but have found that there are two plugins that are available that not only assist you with sitemap creation, but they also handle Search Engine Optimization tasks as well.
These two plugins are Yoast SEO and Rank Math.
Both of these plugins are very good. Both are available for free. Yoast SEO has a Pro version upgrade, but the sitemap functionality is available in the free installation.
Think of a pinball machine. Before sitemaps, this is how search engines found pages.
Now, with sitemaps, they have a directory that we can control. If we have a page that we don’t want to be indexed or shown in the results, we have control to change the settings.
Anytime that I can find a system to automatically update something or remove a task from my to-do list, count me in. That just means that much more time on the beach.
Yoast SEO and Rank Math Can be set up to Automatically set up a sitemap.
Let me show you how.
Once you have installed the Rank Math SEO plugin in your site you will see a menu option on the left side of your WordPress Admin Dashboard.
Select Rank Math and then select Sitemap Settings.
Rank Math will create a sitemap that will include all of your Pages and Post and Images on your site.
It can also be configured to include all of your categories and tags.
If you click on the sitemap link you will see the sitemap that was created on your site. This URL is what you are going to submit to Google.
Now, this is how we automatically submit our new URLs and updates to Google. There is a setting in both plugins that allow you to Ping Search Engines when the post has been created or updated.
Turning this on will cause the updates to occur automatically without you having to do anything else.
Yoast works the same way when it comes to sitemaps. When you Yoast plugin is installed you will find it under SEO on your dashboard menu.
The settings for sitemaps is under the features tab. If you click on the question mark symbol you will see the URL for the Yoast created sitemap.
So now that you have created a sitemap that will be updated every time that you create new content and update your post and pages, we need to let the search engines know that there is an active sitemap on your WordPress Blog.
Google Search Console
Now you are ready to tell Google that your site has a sitemap that can be checked by Google Search Console to check on new pages and updates to your site.
You need to enter the URL of the sitemap that was created by RankMath or Yoast. Once you enter the URL and hit submit, it will take Google a few minutes to confirm that your sitemap exist and is properly formatted.
Once that it is, Google will start to report on the pages and post in your site and will let you know which ones are indexed and which ones are waiting.
If you haven’t already, you need to set up a Google Search Console Account. This was formerly called Google Webmaster Tools)
Setting up your Google Search Console account is one of the steps that I cover in my blog post, How to Start your Blog on WordPress.
How to submit your URL to Google manually
If you have a URL that you think that Google has not found or does not appear in their list of indexed pages and post you can check its status on the Google Search Console.
When you have the search console open, you can enter a URL into the top bar to check to see if Google knows that the page exist.
If the URL is not on Google you can select the Request Indexing Option.
This is how you can manually enter your URL in Google. As they indicate, this will give it a priority, but does not guarantee inclusion.
You should use this feature as a last result. If you have done too many searches on Google during the day or try to submit more than one URL you will be challenges with a captcha code or puzzle.
What about the Google Sandbox?
One thing to understand about Google. There is not a human sitting in a cubicle in California or elsewhere that is looking at your specific site and saying something like, “I don’t like the colors on this site, so I am going to not let it be displayed in the search results.” And therefore clicking a button and “penalizing” your website.
The way that Google makes its decisions for which site to show is codified into an algorithm that takes a number of factors into account.
One of these factors is the age of the site and secondary the act of the post that was created.
Let me give you a parallel to real life so that I can better explain the phenomenon and how Google has built this into its program.
If you walk into a Chamber of Commerce mixer that you have never attended before, they will usually greet you with a hello and give you a sticker to wear that says, Hi, my name is with your name written in sharpie.
Immediately, everyone that sees you in the room knows that you are a newbie. It is human nature for them to shy away from the new kid.
Now, if you walk into the room and are friendly and strike up a conversation with someone or a group of people, and you are pleasant and can understand and add to the topic being discussed, you have a better chance of this group of people interacting with you at the event the following week or month.
It takes a while for people to warm up and to make sure that you are not a flash in the pan or an obnoxious creep.
Google’s algorithm takes the same factors into consideration. Are you well formatted? Are you talking about the right topics? Are you not a creep? (meaning you didn’t try to keyword stuff, etc.)
The delay in showing your page in the results is known as the Sandbox effect.
Google wants to serve up the best, most authoritative content to its users. So it put protections in place to try to prevent people from gaming the system.
You are not being picked on.
Another way that you can see the Sandbox filters in action is around breaking news stories and celebrity deaths.
Following the helicopter crash that took the life of Kobe Bryant, his daughter and others onboard, the Google search results did not immediately show the articles that had been posted on sites like CNN and ESPN. I know because I was checking, like so many others were.
Some of the posts finally showed up 12 to 24 hours later.
Google has been spammed in the past and deceived with false information and malicious link building and they have put filters in place to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
Just like in grade school, you are going to miss recess because some other kid in the class couldn’t behave correctly.
So, If I submit my link into the Search Console, will this speed up my site showing up and reverse the Sandbox effect?
The answer is probably not.
The Sandbox Effect will still be in action.
How do I break out of the Sandbox?
By generating and continuing to generate good content on your site and giving it time to be seen by the algorithm and germinate within the system.
We have all been guilty of posting a page and then immediately looking for the search term in the search results. Only to be disappointed. This is temporary. Move on and continue to create good content.
Long Tail Keywords
One way to get your content to show up is to provide information in areas where others have not provided information.
Plenty of sites have posted about Flip Flops. There are stores and brands that populate page one of the search results on Google. Your new page is not going to just pop into the results. Google will take a wait and see attitude towards your new Flip Flop Emporium site.
But, if you wrote a great post about a lesser covered topic regarding flip flops, like arch support ratings for different brands of flip flops or materials used to make flip flops and which materials are better for your feet, you now have a fighting chance to show up on page one, because there are not enough other choices for Google to show.
This is your chance to break into the results and to spend less time dealing with the Sandbox filters. Back to the Chamber of Commerce analogy. If you are the only one in your small group that happens to be from Texas, and the discussion turns the topic to Texas, the others might be more likely to listen to you for a moment or two.
You have a better chance at standing out with your content when you cover long tail terms in your newer post, until your anchor pages have a chance to establish some authority.