Yoast SEO Sitemap Error & Fix

So in my last post: SEO 101  I created an issue with the sitemap.xml I previously created using the Google Sitemap XML Plugin. Even though Yoast SEO detected a potential issue, it was not properly dealt with, so we need to clean that up. No worries though the solution is simple. The steps below walk through fixing the Yoast SEO Sitemap Error I caused.

Check out the error Google Search Console gave me:

Google Error Processing sitemap.xml
Google error processing sitemap.xml

 

Steps to fix sitemap and create a new one:

  1. Logged in & on Dashboard, go to  SEO > XML Sitemaps
  2. Uncheck the setup a sitemap check box
  3. Hit Save Changes
  4. Check the setup sitmap check box
  5. Hit Save Changes AND done!!
  6. Double check the results by hitting the sitemap button

The Yoast SEO Sitemap Error was that easy to resolve. If you never turned off the Google Sitemap XML Plugin, you might need to do that and repeat the process. Check out the image below for reference.

Yoast SEO Sitemap Settings
Yoast SEO Sitemap Settings

Couple of Notes:

  • Prior to resolution, if you went to the Sitemap button on the Yoast SEO Plugin page you would get a 404 – File not found error
  • Even though Yoast SEO correctly detected the competing plugin and appeared to have deleted the old sitemap, it did not create a replacement
  • I used an FTP client to ensure that the previous sitemap.xml was no around

Now update Google:

Go to Google Search Console and add your new Sitemap. Yoast SEO should have name the Sitemap sitemap_index.xml . You can delete the old sitemap. To get more information about uploading a sitemap to Google Search SEO see: Upload Sitemap to Google

I saw a couple of threads online about the issue, but no quick definitive answer so did a little trial and error. Hopefully this post will help resolve the problem for some other people out there.

SEO 101 – Getting Started With Search Engines

UPDATE: Adding Yoast SEO over the Google Sitemap XML Plugin will cause a problem with sitemap. It takes a couple of extra steps to resolve, the steps are covered here:Fix Yoast SEO Sitemap Error

Start SEO slowly. Consider this SEO 101. This post to ease into getting your site ready for search engines. I recommend trying WordPress SEO/Yoast SEO. It is widely used and well regarded. This post more learn by doing, less what is SEO. It will become clearer after you work with it, and make more sense when you go back and read up on what you are doing.

Before we get going I want to make two notes:

  • Per Google – Still 0 Clicks, no structured data, no real data from the Webmasters tools
  • I updated my first  post to be more SEO friendly. Check out the results: the WordPress – Hello World

Lets go ahead and jump into getting Yoast SEO installed:

Note: Google Site XML will get disabled in favor of the Yoast SEO equivalent. The Yoast SEO will warn you as soon as you install it, so no need to deactivate it ahead of installing/configuring the Plugin.

  1. Logged in/Dashboard up, go to Plugins > Add New
  2. Search WordPress SEO, Select what should be the first-ish result and click Install
  3. Make sure the Plugin is activated upon installation
  4. Confirm disabling the Google Sitemap XML Plugin
  5. Take the tour, if you miss the tour link go to the Left Hand Menu > SEO > General. A button for the tour will be there

Configuring your SEO Plugin:

You should only need to take a couple of steps to get started. There is more to do and play with at some point, but this should get you started.

  1. Update your search console: Go to SEO > Search Console > Get Authentication, follow the steps. NOTE: Not sure if this conflicts with: SEO > General > [ Tab ]  Webmaster Tools – Google Search Console
  2. Update your information: Go to SEO > General > [ Tab ]  Your Info – Select if you are a company or a person, save changes
  3. If you have some settings or did not want Yoast to do your sitemap.xml, edit options at: SEO > Sitemap XML

Creating a Post with SEO Data:

A lot of the benefit from making your site ready for search engines is making sure each Post is updated per the instructions below:

  1. Create a post, set the title to start with a keyword
  2. Write most of the Post
  3. Go to the bottom of the draft page, then review and update the Yoast SEO data
    1. Check the snippet preview and make sure your title is not to long
    2. Being careful in the previous step and depending on how you configured WordPress will have the site URL include your title/keyword
    3. Set your first keyword, try to align it with your title and post. Try to move the keyword to the beginning of your title.
    4. Add a meta-description,  it is what someone who is searching. Include keywords, they will come out if a searcher used them
    5. Go to the Page Analysis Tab, review the data and update to improve your Page Analysis results. The results will tell you exactly what to do.

Focus on repeating this for each post, and less on dumping meta data and keywords of old. This completes a SEO 101 Walk Through. If you want some more information, check out: Yoast SEO General Guide

Now that we have Yoast SEO installed and done the basics, its time for you to start playing around. The plugin tools are pretty helpful at helping you get your WordPress site and Posts SEO ready.

Stopping the WordPress SPAM

There are numerous Spam fighting mechanisms, but the easiest and probably best to get started is Akismit. It is free for Personal use. Even if you think you want to become a commercial site at some point, go ahead and register as a Personal account and get your spam blocking on. They make it easy to upgrade when you BECOME ready. I would also argue that to be something beyond Personal you would have to be a) selling something b) operating the site under a business or LLC, or b) making more money than your hosting costs from ad-revenue or similar mechanism. At a quick glance I could not find any helpful clarifications on the website. Commercial plans start at $5 a month.

Other Spam Plugins can be found here: Dreamhost Wiki Article – SPAM

Steps to enabling Akismet:

  1. Log-in to your WordPress site
  2. If it is not pre-installed (Dreamhost 1-Click WordPress install will have installed the Plugin), on the left menu bar go to Plugins > Add New. Repeat the process from the first section of: Finding/Installing a Plugin
  3. Go to Askismet
    1. Signup for a WordPress.com account, if you do not already have one. Links will be on the Akismet page.
    2. Subscribe to a plan. The Askismet page will walk you through the process
    3. Get the your Activation Code
  4. Go to Plugins > Installed Plugins
    1. Select Activate Plugin
    2. Go to the Settings (Link will be where the Activate was previously) and enter your activation code. SAVE CHANGES.
  5. Pat yourself on the back you are done.

Now that you are finished you should get a lot less offers for the most random things the internet can think up.

 

FOLLOW-UP: Site indexed by Google

There is some work yet to be done, but you can now at least find this website on Google. Right now indexing has not offered any help on the search front for click generation, but we will work on that. One step at a time. I will continue to post my progress and hopefully show how important each step is in creating and driving traffic. For comparison – right now I can see on google.com/webmasters that Google has generated 0 clicks via site results. In future posts I will cover checking google.com/webmasters to track traffic, preventing spam/back link traffic, and help with creating structured data for indexing/search engines (or as some say the dreaded “SEO” acronym).

The clip below shows how you can find the site using the Google search tag site: to find this website. I included

Website Indexed
Google Site Tag Search Results

Now that you can use the site: option in a Google search you can also see that by including the website title and author, you can find the site on Google now.

Google Search For Website
Word Search Result by Author

Getting your first Website on Google – Or At least Indexed

So you have a website and you got WordPress setup and installed, but Google has not yet decided you are are cool enough to add you to the search results… How do you fix that? If you just wait… eventually if you wait long enough, make a couple of posts that people see, and link to – Google will find you. But there is no fun in that, so lets jump start the process.

I know you have already tried searching on google, and may have even tried site:strt-nw.com just to be sure.  As of writing this post – no dice, so lets try something.

Create a sitemap(.xml) – i.e create a map for Google:

You are creating a map of your website that search engines use when finding and indexing your website. You can also use it to submit to google.

  1. Login to your WordPress site and pull up your Dashboard
  2. Click on the Plugins on the left hand side menu
  3. Click on the Add New at the top right hand corner of the page
  4. Search for Google XML Sitemap
  5. Click install
  6. Activate the plugin – it will automatically create a sitemap.xml file for you
  7. NOTE: You can check it out – so if your WordPress is installed at strt-nw.com/web/, your sitemap.xml will be at strt-nw.com/web/sitemap.xml

Add your website to Google & Verify you own your website for Google:

Google believes you have a website you want indexed, but it just wants to make sure you own or have proper permissions for the website.

  1. Go to: https://www.google.com/webmasters
  2. Sign in/Re-sign
  3. Click add Property – enter your website: strt-nw.com/web in this case
  4. Google will give you a verification file to upload to your website – download it. Note you probably want to right click on the link so your browser does not try to just open it because it is an .html file.
  5. Upload it to your website -using FTP
    1. You dont have an FTP client on your computer – get FileZilla or WinSCP
    2. Grab your FTP information in the email your web hosting company probably sent to you (dreamhost sent you an email with a password – which you have hopefully changed at this point)
    3. Use the client to connect your website. Logging on will put you in a user directory. Your website is probably in a folder with the name of the website. For me that is strt-nw.com, I then have to go to the web subfolder.
    4. Drag and drop the verification file using the FTP client
  6. Confirm you have uploaded the verificaiton file – google will confirm you did it correctly.

Add your sitemap to Google:

This step is somewhat optional as Google should find it, but it should help jump start the process. Google also lets you test your sitemap to check for errors.

  1. On your landing page at https://www.google.com/webmasters, click on your one and only site listed
  2. Click the submit
  3. Enter your sitemap.xml file location. It should already have your site filled in. So google gave me strt-nw.com/web/, I added sitemap.xml
  4. Ensure you get confirmation on the upload

If you care to follow the other instructions google sends you a message about, go ahead. Now you can take a step back and get to creating content. In a couple of days you should be indexed by Google. Be patient.

Update the default WordPress look, feel, and theme

The 1-Click WordPress install is pretty amazing in its simplicity, but now all I have is boring white WordPress site. Lets do something about it. Thankfully WordPress makes that super easy.

Updating your default theme is very easy:

  1. Log into your WordPress installation and go to the Dashboard
  2. On the left side bar select Appearance > Themes
  3. Select a theme – Select Live Preview to give you an example of what your site will look like
  4. Make sure you select update or save changes

Now it is time to customize your theme:

  1. Go back to your Dashboard
  2. On the left side bar select Appearance > Customize
  3. Update your header image and/or background color to something less stock
  4. Update your site title and tagline
  5. Make sure you select update or save changes

Updating the Sample Page that gets automatically created is very easy as well:

  1. Go back to the Dashboard
  2. On the left sidebar select Pages
  3. On the Pages page that opens up, select Edit for the page you want to update
  4. Edit the Page name (maybe to About) and update the associated text
  5. Make sure to publish the changes – Upper right hand side – hit the Publish button

Now your WordPress site no longer looks complete stock.

Want another theme – check out:

https://wordpress.org/themes/

First WordPress Site – Start to Post – 1 Hour

After spending time thinking about starting a site, I decided to stop thinking and do. I have had a website before, but I never really used it and would cancel after prolonged inactivity. I decided to start with WordPress on a web hosting service that makes it easy. I wanted to make my first WordPress site.

Steps:

  1. Stop waiting/thinking/researching and do it.
  2. See step one…
  3. Choose Dreamhost/Bluehost/Host Gator – stop there – choose one – look no further. All have great getting started service options. Some have slightly different support for multiple domains, and some come with 1 free domain. I choose Dreamhost due to a deal that included a free domain with a great deal for a year of hosting.
    1. If you want to use Dreamhost you can use the following with PROMO CODE: LT30DEAL:Dreamhost Signup!
  4. If you want Find a deal on one of the hosting options – search for hosting comparisons (Dreamhost vs Bluehost vs Host Gator) most links have discount codes
  5. Sign up/Pay – The hardest part here is choosing a name. Google website name generator or similar.. Just choose one – you will eventually dislike it or spend too much time thinking about it. You can register for a new site domain. Stop wasting time and just pick a name.
  6. Take a second to congratulate yourself – you did the toughest part.
  7. Use the 1 Click WordPress installer on your service. You will have to choose a domain (use the one you just signed up for) an extension like website.com/extend   (Dreamhost: http://wiki.dreamhost.com/WordPress)
  8. You will get an email when WordPress is done installing
  9. While you wait, create an email for your new website. Just google [hosting provider] and email setup. Create a simple contact@your-new-site.com or such. You will want it when you setup WordPress
  10. NOTE: Your website will likely not trickle down to your local DNS for another day. If you don’t know what DNS is – do not worry – it is the big map of the web. The thing that takes lifehacker.com and points it to a real address like 123.168.1.XX
  11. Now the only tricky part: Bypassing the fact your map has not be updated
    1. Use nslookup and the command line – looks like nslookup <name-of-site.com>
    2. Take the IP from nslookup and update your local hosts file:
      1. Take the IP from above and add it to your hosts file using the second half Update your Hosts File
      2. Mac: http://www.tekrevue.com/tip/edit-hosts-file-mac-os-x/ or sudo vim /private/etc/hosts
      3. Linux add a line to /etc/hosts using something like sudo vim /etc/hosts
      4. Windows: Use the link above
      5. NOTE: You are probably like, if I knew how to do that I would not be here. Fair – two options: 1) Wait a day or so until the website comes up when you type it in your browser and you can use the links in the email you got when WordPress finished installing or 2) Google – with the notes I have – there are instructions on these tasks.
  12. Now you should be able to access your new WordPress site – using the setup links sent to you when you were notified.
  13. Setup WordPress – Create a site title, and enter the email you created in a previous step.
  14. Log-in WordPress – Use the dashboard to Edit the Hello World! It will AutoSave.
  15. In the Top Right Corner – Use the Publish box – to find the Update Button. Click it to update your post.

Congrats! You finished creating a WordPress site and a first article. I just hit 1 HR and 15 Minutes. That includes a quick search on web host providers, finding a discount (I used one from Lifehacker.com), wasting time coming up with a domain name, figuring out  the DNS thing, and typing this.