As we zero in on writing the best blog content available, we want to make sure people can find it.
So in the next three posts, we will learn how to add our site to Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
Let’s begin with Google.
Sign in at Google Webmaster Tools
The first thing is to go to Google Webmaster Tools.
Sign in with your Google account which you should have already set up when we set up Feedburner.
When you do, you will see a screen like this:
Click on the helpful grey button which says “Add a Site” to get started. When you do, it will ask you for the URL you would like to manage.
So, enter your website URL, and click “Continue.”
Verify Blog Ownership
You will now be faced with this screen:
Google want to make sure you own the site you are trying to manage.
There are numerous ways of proving that you are the owner. The way they think it easiest is by uploading a file to your root directory of your website. You would download the file they have created, save it to your hard drive, and then use an FTP Client like FileZilla to upload it to your website. Then, as they suggest, you check the file to see if it is there, and if so, click “Verify” in the box.
Notice, however, that there are “Alternate Methods.” Clicking on that tab gives you these options:
I prefer the option of adding a meta tag to the site’s home page. Since we already have WordPress installed, we can easily edit the files that are already on the website, and add the meta tag directly to the files. The less downloading and uploading we do, the better.
So when you click on the meta tag option, you get this:
And all you have to do is add this to your blog header. How do you do that?
There are two ways, the easy way and the easier way.
First, the Easy way to add the Google Webmaster meta tag to your blog header.
Open your Blog Dashboard, and on the Left menu, select Appearance > Editor. Since I am using the Standard Theme, I get a screen that looks like the one below, but no matter what theme you use, your Editor screen will look similar.
What you need to do is add the meta tag which Google gave you to the header.php file. Every blog theme should have one of these. If your blog theme does not have one, get a new theme. Seriously. If it doesn’t have a header.php file, it is a terrible theme.
When you click on the file, you should scroll down until you find a tag that ends the header section. It will look like the image below:
Once you find it, you are going to paste the code from Google Analytics into your header.php file, right before that closing </head> tag.
Click “Update File” and then return to Google Webmaster tools to verify that it is there. If so, you’ll get a screen like this:
That was easy, right?
But there is an even easier way!
In the Dashboard, click the “SEO” menu item on the bottom left. Look at what we have on the very first screen:
Rather than enter the meta tag code into your header.php, all you have to do is enter the meta tag right into the WordPress SEO plugin as I have done above, click “Save settings” and we’re done!
You will want to keep this page open, as we are going to need our XML Sitemap from the WordPress SEO plugin in just a minute, but for now, return to Google Webmaster Tools, to make sure the meta tag was added properly. You should get the same screen we saw above using the other method:
Great! What’s next?
Submit a Sitemap
A Sitemap is a file that helps Google know what is on your blog, and how it is organized. It is kind of like an index file for search engines. If you want them to index your site, it is helpful to give them a sitemap. Here is how.
Click on “Site Configuration” and select “Sitempas.” Then click the button to “Submit a Sitemap.”
While there are numerous plugins that create Sitemaps, one of the plugins which we have already installed creates a nice sitemap already (two of them actually). It is the WordPress SEO plugin. I told you this was a super helpful plugin. It’s a workhorse!
Also, if you remember, I explained in that post what an XML Sitemap is, but by way of review, it is a list of posts and pages from your blog which helps search engines like Google index your site.
To submit a sitemap, you need to know the URL address of the sitemap. From within WordPress SEO plugin, click on “XML Sitemap.” You will arrive at this screen:
When you click on the little “here” link, you get taken to the page that contains your sitemaps.
Right now, because this blog is so new, there is only a Post Sitemap. Later, after I start adding some content, and some pages, the WordPress SEO plugin will also create a Page Sitemap. They both will follow the same pattern, so I am going to add them both to Google Webmaster tools, even though right now, only one of them exists.
If you are using a different WordPress Plugin, it may only create one sitemap, and it will probably be different than the one here. Of course, there is nothing wrong with submitting multiple sitemaps either…it’s just a little redundant.
So back in Google Webmaster Tools, I type in the sitemap URL address:
Click “Submit Sitemap” and voila! The Sitemap is submitted.
Now, when I add the Page Sitemap, I will get an error screen. But I know I will be adding pages to my site later, and as long as I am here in Google Webmaster tools, I want to add the (future) page sitemap now.
Note that not all Sitemap generators have both a posts and a page sitemap, so depending on which plugin you use to generate your sitemap, you may not need to submit both.
This is pretty much all you need to do in Goolge Webmaster tools. In the next two posts we will be setting up Bing Webmaster tools and Yahoo Webmaster tools, but the processes are fairly identical.
If you are wondering what the other options are inside Google Webmaster tools, feel free to browse through them and look around. Later, after I get some posts up and running, I will do a post with a Grand Tour of Google Webmaster Tools so we can see all that it does for us. Right now, we are just setting it up so that it will find and index our content when it is published.
Check back tomorrow when we set up Bing Webmaster Tools!