Google Webmaster Tools invites webmasters and bloggers to submit an XML compliant sitemap so that all posts, pages, categories and other sections of your blog are fully and quickly indexed by the googlebot crawlers.
With your Google account, you can sign up for webmaster tools and use those tools to improve your site’s accessibility. Submitting a sitemap is one of those tools, this will ensure that all your pages are crawled. The ‘Top Search Queries’ feature will help you to get a better insight of how, when and how often your blog posts are displayed and clicked in Google’s search results. The Diagnostics tool will notify you about crawl errors, pages of your site that generate errors such as 404, HTTP errors and more. There is even a tool you can utilize to see which other sites on the web are linking to your blog and particular articles.
Reason enough to use Google’s Webmaster Tools if you are a smart blogger, but how to go about making an XML compliant sitemap and submit it to Google? As always there is a plugin that can do all the work for us. I have been using Google Sitemap generator for wordpress since a long time. It is the perfect plugin to do the job.
Download the plugin here, upload the files to your wp-content/plugins folder and activate the plugin through the administration interface. Before you can use the plugin, the sitemap needs to be build for the first time. You might want to go through the settings for advanced customization first.
After the sitemap is generated it will be located at yoursite.com/sitemap.xml and each time your write a new post or page, the plugin will automatically rebuild the sitemap and notify Google about the new entries in the sitemap.
If you want to benefit and learn from the diagnostics that Webmaster Tools has to offer you will need to signup and verify your site by adding a meta tag with verification code within in the HEAD tag of your header.php template.
Update: Today I discovered a Crawl Error in Google Webmaster tools diagnostics. Google encountered the following issue when crawling my site:
http://www.bloggertools.org/wp-app.php/service 401 error Jul 14, 2011
Turns out it was caused by a setting of the XML sitemap generator plugin, which was in conflict with the real robots.txt file which exists in the blog directory.