How to Start a Blog #6: Create Static Pages and a Sitemap

How to Start a Blog #6: Create Static Pages and a Sitemap
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This is the part where you create the basic structure of your blog. By creating blog pages, you are essentially creating the structure of your sitemap.

Sitemap is a list of those few pages that you create, and all the other pages and posts that get created by WordPress once you start putting out content.

Static Blog Pages are used to create header and footer menus, which is the big part of your theme design and navigation. Pages are used to show the visitors who you are (about page), how to contact you (contact page), where your products and services are, and so on.

Once you create the essential pages, you will then create a sitemap using a WordPress SEO plugin, and upload it to Search Engines so their bots easily know what to crawl.

Is your website new?

Not all pages are necessary for a beginner blogger. Which ones you should add depends on your blog nature, and your business.

For a registered small business, I recommend adding most of the pages, because you probably have the budget to hire someone to do it, including hiring writers for it and legal counsel, which also means that if you’re already making money, there are others who want to take it by legal means. Best to protect yourself sooner, rather than later.

Sitemap is best added right at the start of a blog, after you finish your content plan.

Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links, and I may recieve a small compensation, at no cost to you. Know that I also recommend only the best products that I’ve personally used and tested.

What are Blog Pages?

Blog pages are used for the information that you don’t expect to change frequently. They allow you to add useful information about your blog without affecting your blog posts that you regularly write.

That’s also the main difference between posts and pages – posts are used for the regular content you put out, and pages are used for consistent, static information about yourself, your business, the way you operate and earn, affiliate disclosure, products, etc.

Why Add Pages to Your WordPress Blog

You need these pages so you can share the most important information with your readers about what you do, who you are and how you work.

You will use the pages for clients to contact you, affiliate disclosures, to hire writers for your blog, help users get to know you better, and you can use pages to protect yourself legally.

Pages are a big part of your business, and you should make sure they are visible and easily accessible.

Which ones are a must?

12 Essential Blog Pages for a WordPress Blog

About Page


Static Blog Pages, About Page

This one is obvious – it’s a page about you (or your company) – who you are, where do you come from, what do you do, and so on.

This is a must have page, and every blog should have it.

You can name it “About Me” or “About Us” depending on if there are more than one person working in your endeavor.

This is one of the most clicked pages out of all. Every time someone reads your content, they may want to check you out, and see who you are. If you’re running the blog by yourself, then the more personal you create it – the better.

Contact Page

Static Blog Pages, Contact Page

This page is for your blog readers, but also potential business partners, advertisers and anyone else interested in contacting you.

You can use a Contact form plugin to add the form in, such as Contact Form 7 or Gravity Forms, and if you want you can also leave your email, phone number, address and location map, social media links (Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, etc) for people to connect with you.

You can check out my contact page and create something similar.

Privacy Policy Page

Privacy policy informs the visitors about their data usage on the site.

Privacy Policy is not necessary for all the websites, just like Terms of Service, but you need a privacy policy if you’re using Google AdSense and similar services that set cookies and use this data for different purposes.

To create your own privacy policy, you can use Privacy Policy Template Generator.

Or you can take a look at my own Privacy Policy or check a few other websites and simply copy/paste a few sections (if they allow it, and most of them do) and just edit a bit and put your own info.

Start Here Page

Static Blog Pages, Start Here page

Start Here (or Getting Started) page is where you’ll want your new visitors to land.

Once your site grows large it may become confusing to new users.

When new visitors get here, it should welcome them, give the most useful information about navigating your website, and promote your best product or service.

Tools (Resources) Page

This is one of the more useful pages for your readers. It should provide them with the best and most useful tools relative to your niche.

It could be software, apps, services, websites or any type of resources that is immensely helpful to your readers, and that you’ve used and want to recommend to others.

It’s also a page for your main affiliate links, for the best products and services.

If you’re not sure how to design it, take a look at my Recommended Tools page.

Disclaimer Page

If you’re making money online through your site, then this is the page where you let your readers know how you make money. If you use ads or affiliate products you should inform users that this is how you’re monetizing your website.

This is especially important for some specific affiliate programs, but not for most.

Sometimes Disclaimer page isn’t necessary, if you clearly state on every post and page how you’re monetizing your content, such as through affiliate programs.

Terms of Service Page

Usually, you don’t need this page unless you’re selling products and services.

To create this page properly, you should get some legal help, instead of using online template generators.

This page lets you limit your liability in case of misuse of information and services provided on your website, and can include much more info depending on your business model.

If you want, you can use (at your own risk) this free Terms and conditions generator.

Hire Me Page

If you’re offering consulting services, this is the page that lands you deals.

The purpose of this page is to promote yourself and build trust, use real experience and data to back up your knowledge and specialty, create a nice page, and offer a form for an interested client to contact you.

Products / Services Page

If you’re using an ecommerce platform such as WooCommerce to sell products or services, then you need to have this page.

It’s usually created through the e-commerce WordPress plugin, and you can just add it to your navigation menus. If it isn’t, you need to create it.

Advertising Page

If you want to sell ad spots on your website directly, this is the page where you inform potential advertisers about it.

You’ll also use this page to let them know about your website demographics, monthly visitors, monthly impressions, the type of space you’re offering and a form for them to contact you.

Write For Us Page

This page is about guest posting.

If you’re looking for more writers for your blog, then this is the page to write about it.

Guest posting” means writing an article for someone else’s blog, and is used to connect with new readers and to get your name out there.

You may want to put some Guidelines here, about what kind of content you are looking for, what your blog is about, how will they benefit by writing for your blog, and you’ll want to insert another contact form here.

Custom 404 Page

When someone lands on the page that doesn’t exist anymore, they’re shown a 404 page instead. It’s an error “page not found” page, with no content other than the 404 message and the info about page not being found.

Generic 404 pages are usually not that great looking, and quite boring.

You may want to change this by creating a custom 404 page. This also gives you the opportunity to let the readers know about where the best content is, so they can continue browsing your site.

There are many WordPress plugins that can create a 404 page for you.


What is a Sitemap

What is a Sitemap

Sitemap is simply a list of all your pages and posts.

Let me reassure you – there is not much technical stuff to do here.

All you need to do is:

  • simply imagine your website’s basic look
  • optional – draw it on paper or screen
  • create the pages that you need
  • use an SEO plugin to generate an XML sitemap (1 click)
  • submit a sitemap to Google and Bing.

That’s it.

You don’t need to do anything else for now.

You will use these pages to create menus in the next part of my series – Logo making and Theme customization.

Sitemaps are used both by web designers, by bots, and by visitors. They are especially helpful and necessary if you have a huge website with lots of posts and pages.

Designers use a graphical representation of the pages:

Bots (such as Googlebot) use an XML sitemap, which is a list of all your pages and posts, with relative importance of each one, so that they know what to crawl first:

Sitemap help Google crawlers

And visitors may use it to find specific pages.

You should plan your website look and all the pages so you could know how it’s going to look. I suggest using a piece of paper or an online drawing tool to quickly draw the basic look.

You don’t have to plan every single element, just the main stuff: main header menu, where you want your logo to be, if you want anything in footer, and the sidebars.

So, just the general look of the site.

If you’ve already created the necessary pages, you can easily use them in the navigation menu of the header, footer or any other location on your blog.

How to Create a Sitemap on WordPress

If you’re launching a completely new blog, then follow the steps below.

Otherwise, if your pages are already created, just go to step 4.

Step 1: Create Your Essential Blog Pages

Think about what are the most important places on your website: Home page, About, Contact, Products, Privacy policy, etc.

Now, you have to create those pages.

It may take a while if it’s a completely new blog, but just keep it simple, follow some basic templates and move on. You can always expand on them later on.

Step 2: Draw a Basic Look of Your Blog

Do a quick draw of the basic look of your website.

Take a big piece of blank paper, or open your favorite drawing software and draw the main elements: logo, header links, footer links, any sidebars, social links, etc.

Shouldn’t take you more than 5 minutes for a home page, if doing a free draw.

When drawing, keep in mind these new pages that you just created, and any other content such as sidebars, categories you may want to show, opt-in forms, promotions, etc.

Website Design Pages

You are doing this to form a visual representation of your blog.

Step 3: Create the Hierarchy of Pages

This is especially useful if you have many pages and need an overview.

You can use GlooMaps to easily do this.

Hierarchy of pages will have the top-level and sub-level content:

How to Create a Sitemap, Sitemap Levels

This is created to give you the structured representation of all the pages, and to understand where your pages are located in a hierarchy.

Try to keep in mind a simple rule: that there should be no more than 3 clicks to reach any of your pages on the site. If it takes longer, try pulling it higher on the hierarchy.

Step 4: Create a Sitemap Using All in One SEO

You can generate your sitemap with your SEO plugin of choice. I’ll show how to do this with All in One SEO, because that’s the one I’m using.

If you haven’t yet configured All in One SEO then you can follow my guide.

After using All in One SEO Pro on several different niche blogs, I believe that this plugin offers everything needed for an SEO website optimization.

To create a sitemap through All in One SEO plugin:

  1. Hover over All in One SEO on your WordPress Dashboard and click Feature Manager.
  2. Once there, activate the XML sitemaps. It’s a free feature.
  3. Your sitemap will be automatically created by the plugin
  4. A “new” XML Sitemap link will show up in your All in One SEO menu. Click it.
  5. Make sure to select Posts and Pages only, and perhaps categories. Try to avoid all the media attachment pages.
Create XML Sitemap, All in One SEO

Your sitemap is now created.

You can access your sitemap by clicking the link provided by your WordPress SEO plugin.

You should also add your sitemap to your Robots.txt file as well. It’s also automatic, through All in One SEO plugin, and very easy to do.

Step 5: Validate Your Sitemap

It’s always smart to validate your sitemap to check for any errors.

You can validate your sitemap at XML Sitemap Validator. It should be green which means that your sitemap is error-free.

Submit Your Sitemap to Search Engines

Now that you’ve created your sitemap, and added to your Robots.txt file, it’s time to submit it to the search engines.

This is done to boost your SEO and so that search engine bots can use the sitemap to easily crawl all your pages, and index them.

You’ll also be able to see if there are any errors in your XML sitemap.

Submit Your Sitemap to Google

If you’ve not yet registered your site at Google Search Console, follow this guide.

To submit a sitemap to Google:

  1. Go to Google Search Console
  2. Click on Sitemaps, and enter the URL of your sitemap
  3. Click SUBMIT.
Submit Sitemap to Google

Google will now start crawling your sitemap. It may take a few days.

With your sitemap submitted to Google, the Googlebot will now easily crawl your site, check for errors, index your pages and boost your SEO.

You may receive some errors from Google about the sitemap. If you get something like “generic HTTP error” it may just be the glitch in Google, because they’ve transitioned from the Classic Google Search Console (GSC) to the new one, and things haven’t been ironed out yet.

The generic HTTP error is probably simply “pending” in the Classic GSC. Just wait a day or two and check again.

If there are any other errors, you should google them and see why they appear.

Submit Your Sitemap to Bing

This is as easy as submitting to Google.

If you’ve not yet added your site to Bing, you should do so by following my instructions here.

Once your site is added to Bing Webmaster Tools:

  1. click on your site
  2. Click “Submit a Sitemap
  3. Paste your Sitemap URL, and click SUBMIT.
Submit Sitemap to Bing

That’s it. Your sitemap is submitted to Bing Search Engine as well.

Conclusion

With a sitemap, you’ve taken your SEO to the next level.

All it took was to:

  1. Create essential pages
  2. Draw basic website look
  3. Create a hierarchy of pages
  4. Generate a sitemap through SEO plugin
  5. Submit the sitemap

You’ve conquered yet another task, and you’re ready to move on.

You know what your site should look like, you have the main pages for your site, and bots know where to crawl and index your pages.

Now that you have your website visualized graphically and pages laid out hierarchically, you can easily customize the theme of your site. In the next part, we’ll also be using free logo makers, cheap logo makers and the logo contests, to create your logo.

Let’s go!


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