Are you wondering how to add a sitemap to Google Search Console? Learning this valuable skill is extremely important for SEO.
Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools allow a website owner to upload a sitemap that Google will crawl.
All formats limit a single sitemap to 50MB and 50,000 URLs. So if you have a larger file or more URLs, you will have to break your list into multiple sitemaps. You can create a file and submit that single index file to Google.
So sitemaps are an important tool for two major reasons namely:
- For improving indexing of a website
- This helps Google find your website
Sitemaps are a great way of making sure your index status is stable. Because they ensure your most up to date content is appearing in search results.
So I have set up a simple guide for how to add a site map in Google Search Console.
Let’s get started.
- What is Google Search Console And What Is It Used For?
- What Is A Sitemap?
- What Does A Sitemap Look Like?
- The Main Components Of A Sitemap
- Do You Need To Add A Sitemap To Search Console?
- How To Submit A Sitemap In Google Search Console
- What To Include In Your Sitemap
- CMS Plugins For Generating XML Sitemaps
- What are XML sitemaps?
- Which Pages Should Be In Your XML Sitemap?
- Why Do I Need An XML Sitemap
- Wrapping Up
What is Google Search Console And What Is It Used For?
Google search console which was formerly called Google Webmaster Tool is a free tool that lets you control your website from the search engine’s perspective.
Google search console is important. It helps site owners to:
- know how their site is appearing in Google search index
- maintain a healthy site
- provide warnings about possible issues
- notify site owners of penalties
- fix issues when they arise
Who should use a site map?
- business owners
Use Google search console to submit your sitemap.
What Is A Sitemap?
A sitemap is a file you place within your domain with information about pages, videos, and other files on your site, and the relationships between them.
There are four main types of sitemaps:
- Normal XML Sitemap
This is the most common type of sitemap. It’s an XML Sitemap that links to several pages on your website.
- Video Sitemap
It enables Google to understand video content on your page.
- News Sitemap
This Sitemap enables Google to find content on sites that are approved for Google News.
- Image Sitemap
It aids Google to find all of the images hosted on your site.
Google can read a sitemap and use it to locate pages on your site, when the page was last updated and how often the page is changed.
So this is a critical component of search engine optimization because improving rankings and search traffic starts with getting indexed.
What Does A Sitemap Look Like?
A standard sitemap in XML format as shown within Sitemaps.org looks like this:
<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>
The Main Components Of A Sitemap
<urlset>(required) – Encapsulates the file and references the current protocol standard
<url> (required) – The parent tag of each URL. All elements associated with an individual URL will be within this
<loc> (required) – The URL of the page should have the domain name
<lastmod> (It’s optional) – The last modified date of the URL should be in W3C Date time format
<changefreq> ( Which is optional) – How frequently a page changes.
<priority> (This is optional) – Priority of the URL compared to others in the list ranges from least important to important (0.0 to 1).
Do You Need To Add A Sitemap To Search Console?
Emphatic no. Google can locate and index your pages even without a sitemap.
However, if you have a huge website, you need to create a Sitemap and submit it to Google so that all your pages are indexed.
But a sitemap can improve crawling and reduce server resources.
XML Sitemaps are especially important if:
- Your site is huge. For example, e-commerce sites as well as marketplaces
- The internal linking of site pages is not well done
- Your website is brand new and does not have many backlinks. So if other sites haven’t started linking to you yet, it will take time to get indexed
- Your site has a lot of multimedia content such as video and images.
- Your website has recently migrated
How To Submit A Sitemap In Google Search Console
If you want to add a sitemap to Google Search Console, then here is how you do it step-by-step.
How To Submit Sitemap To Google Search console:
Here are steps you need to follow:
- Sign in to Google search console
- Select your Website
- Click on Sitemap from the left sidebar
- Add your Sitemap URL (Ex:sitemap-index.xml)
- Click submit
Here is a detailed explanation:
Head over to Google search console and select your website. So if you have never submitted your site before to Google, read this tutorial to add it and verify as well.
Well, that’s it. Thus when you hit the submit button, Google will crawl your sitemap file and start crawling and indexing all the links listed in the submitted sitemap file.
So if you are using the old version of Google search console, then follow the steps outlined below.
Inside your Google Webmaster Tool dashboard, on the right-hand side you will see an option called “Sitemaps”.
Then click on “More” to see all submitted sitemaps, or you can submit a new sitemap from there.
Finally, click on “Add/Test Sitemap” to submit your sitemap file. Then on the same page, you will see which sitemaps are discovered by Google.
So depending on what type of sitemap you have generated, you can submit it from here.
What To Include In Your Sitemap
Once you have located your sitemap, you should analyse it for any potential issues. In this section, we’ll run through what to include, avoid and look out for within your sitemaps.
Only Include Canonical URLS
A canonical tag is a way of telling Google the URL to be indexed. This prevents duplicate content issues.
So if you’ve got duplicate instances of the same page, simply specify the canonical version to Google via the rel=canonical HTML element on the page.
For example, it’s common for a product to be in different categories and therefore have different URLs:
/product/a-red-short/ – Canonical
To prevent duplicate content you would want a canonical tag on all of the above URLs, pointing to the canonical version. For example, /product/a-red-short/ URL in this instance.
So when a URL is described as ‘canonicalised’ it means that it’s canonical tag does not match the current URL, meaning that it’s a duplicate page and not the preferred version to index.
Therefore, sitemaps are extremely useful for search engines as they help them to crawl your website more intelligently.
Use the following tools: Crawl your sitemap using Screaming Frog, Deepcrawl or Sitebulb and check that there are no canonicalised URLs.
Only Use Your Preferred URL Format
Make sure that your sitemap URLs contain links and use your preferred URL format. If your website is using HTTPS, so should your sitemap URLs.
Often when a website has migrated to HTTPS, we find that the sitemap URLs have not been updated to the secure protocol. So it’s important to check after a migration if your website is using a dynamic sitemap.
Don’t add different URLs for the same page
Ensure that the protocol (http:// or https://) and the “www” subdomain are included if they exist on your actual site.
URL structures in your sitemap should match with the actual pages.
Follow these other important guidelines for sitemaps:
- Let Google know alternate language versions of a URL utilizing hreflang tags.
- Sitemap files must be UTF-8 encoded, and URLs escaped properly.
CMS Plugins For Generating XML Sitemaps
- Check XML Sitemap – Drupal
- XML Sitemap – OS Commerce Three
- Check XML Sitemap – WordPressOne
- XML Sitemap – Joomla
Thus after creating your Sitemaps with all of the right elements and attributes in place, validate them using one of the following tools:
What are XML sitemaps?
An XML sitemap is a file that lists a website’s important pages, making sure Google can find and crawl them all.
It helps search engines understand your website structure, to crawl every essential page of your website.
But sometimes, pages end up without any internal links pointing to them, making them hard to find. A sitemap can help speed up content discovery.
Which Pages Should Be In Your XML Sitemap?
Think of the importance of a URL. If you don’t want that URL to show up in the search results, you’ll need to add a ‘noindex’ tag. Thus leaving it out of your sitemap doesn’t mean Google won’t index the URL.
If Google can find it by following links, Google can index the URL.
A new blog
If you want Google to find recent posts quickly to make sure your target audience can find your blog in the search results, then create an XML sitemap.
At first, you should leave the tag’s URLs out of the sitemap for now. Set the tag pages to ‘noindex, follow’ because you don’t want people to find them in search results.
Media and images
Having a separate ‘media’ or ‘image’ sitemap is pointless, and so it should be left out.
Why Do I Need An XML Sitemap
Search engines use links to discover new pages and updated content. However, the best is by following a sitemap. An XML sitemap can be generated by Yoast SEO.
It gives search engines directions to all of your content and tells them when your pages were last updated. With Yoast SEO you automatically get robust XML sitemaps for all of your content types.
So sitemaps ensures:
- Make your content available for crawlers
- Allow search engines to quickly discover your content
- Prioritize your most important content
- Determine what goes into your sitemap
XML sitemaps are important as they help search engines quickly find, crawl and index websites.
Make sure you’ve properly formatted, compressed and submitted your XML sitemap to search engines to get the most of their advantages.