Jekyll Sitemaps

##Using Google Webmaster tools to add a sitemap to your Jekyll blog

Having a Sitemap

Having a sitemap, an XML file that lists the links and secitons in your site, is important for Search Engine Optimization. It allows search engines to be feed a list of locations within your site to be crawled. The four largest search engines (Bing, Google, Yahoo, and Ask) all look for an xml sitemap. However, having a sitemap doesn’t necesarily guarantee your a page will be crawled, and if a page is crawled, it doesn’t neccisarily mean it will be indexed.

Google Webmaster Tools

Step one: sign up for Google Webmaster Tools. You’ll need a Google accont to do this. Next you’ll add a site (which you’ll have to verify). For my site, I added both the non-www and www versions. Once that’s done, set the default site to your non-www version. Google Webmasters Dashboard On the left hand side you’ll see a menu. Here you’ll be able to click “Crawl”, then click “Sitemap” and click the button in the upper red corner “Add/Test Sitemap” But before we do that, we’re going to add the sitemap to the Jekyll blog.

Adding the Sitemap to Jekyll

This is the preferred method for a Jekyll blog that lives on github pages. First you’ll want to open your Gemfile and add the line:

gem 'jekyll-sitemap'

This will tell the bundle application to include this gem everytime you run Jekyll. Next you’ll add a gems section (if you don’t already have it) to your ‘_config.yaml’ file and add add jekyll-sitemap to that, like this:

gems: [jekyll-sitemap]

(Note: I only have one gem in my gemfile, yours could look different) Now to test, run ‘bundle exec jekyll serve’ locally and you should see a generated sitemap.xml in your Jekyll ‘_sites’ directory: sitemap.xml Now push the code to github. Within a few minutes (up to 30), your sitemap should be automatically generated.

Final Thoughts

Each CMS usually has their own sitemap generating tools. Its important to have a sitemap that is automatically maintained and accessible for getting your site indexed. After setting your blog up, adding a sitemap is the next logical step.