A sitemap is a file that contains a list of the web pages that are on a website. It will relay to Google and other search engines the organization of the website's content. Googlebot and other search engine crawlers will read the sitemap so that they can crawl your site with more knowledge. These sitemaps can also hold important metadata regarding the pages that are listed within the sitemap. Metadata is any information about a web page—like how often it is changed, its importance in relation to the other pages on the site, when it was last updated, and more. Sitemaps can be used to give Google metadata that is associated with particular types of content on the web pages like videos, images, and mobile content. A video entry on a sitemap can indicate the video's running time, age rating, and category. An image entry on a sitemap may tell the type, subject matter, and license.
If all of a website's pages are linked properly, Google's web crawlers are able to discover most of the content on their own. Even if this is the case, having a sitemap will only improve the crawling of the site, especially if the site is very large, has archive pages that are not linked among each other, if it is new and does not have many external links, and if it has a lot of rich media content.
It should be noted that even when you employ a sitemap, it does not promise that all of the items will be indexed and crawled. This is because Google's process relies only on intricate algorithms to do the crawling. In almost all cases, there is never ever a penalty for having a sitemap, and websites do benefit from having one.
Whatever format you choose to employ, you will need to remember that the sitemap has to be under 10MB uncompressed, and under 50,000 URLs. If it is over either of these, you will need to break it up into more than one sitemap. Then, you have the choice to create a sitemap index file that will indicate the list of sitemaps, and then submit this single file to Google. Either way will be okay.
This page will display a list of the sitemaps that a user has submitted to the Search Console. Any sitemaps that were not submitted using this tool will not be displayed. When viewing the table, click on a sitemap to get more information about it, including any errors that have occurred. In the case that the file is a sitemap index, clicking on it will display a list of the sitemaps contained within the index file. Open the Sitemaps Report here.
If the sitemap is not listed within the report, you will need to check the settings. This includes the website's preferred domain, who submitted the sitemap, and if you submitted the sitemap using a specific report.
All sitemaps should be tested before they are submitted. If you are going to test an unsubmitted sitemap, from the report landing page you will need to click on Add/Test Sitemap. Then, enter the URL for the sitemap into the box and then click on Test. After the test has completed, click on Open Test Results, and check for errors that need to be fixed. After the errors have been fixed, you may submit the sitemap.
If you are aiming to test a previously submitted sitemap, you will open the details for the previously submitted page and simply click on Test.
If it's your first time submitting the sitemap, you will need to test it as described previously. Select the Add/test Sitemap button. You will then need to enter a URL path into a text box. This URL needs to be relative to the site root that is defined for the property. Then, select Submit. After this, you will refresh your browser to see that the sitemap has been added to the list of sitemaps. Select this new sitemap on the list to open the details page and look for any errors or warnings that have developed within the sitemap or the URLs that it contains.
It should be noted that Google takes some time to process a new sitemap that has been submitted. Google never promises to crawl or index each URL in the sitemap because of their dependence on algorithms to make the crawling decisions.
If you simply need to resubmit the sitemap, you will open up the Sitemaps report. Then from the table you will select the sitemap that you would like to resubmit. Select the Resubmit sitemap button.
When you delete a sitemap, it will be permanently removed from the Search Console. From the sitemap table, you will select the box next to the sitemaps that you would like to delete. Then, click on delete. NOTE: this does not delete the sitemap from the web host, so Google may still crawl it. If you would like to prevent Google from crawling it, block the access through robots.txt.
When you have multiple sitemaps, you will likely be keeping them organized in a sitemap index file so that you can submit them all at once. If you are the owner of many websites, you can ease the process of creating and then submitting sitemaps through creating multiple sitemaps that include URLs for all of the legitimate websites, and then saving this one sitemap in a static location. All of the websites have to be checked out and verified by the Search Console. You can do one of the following:
The cross-site submission will only be allowed to work if the websites have been verified through the Search Console.
In order to host cross-site sitemaps in one location, you will need to ensure that you have verified your ownership of all sites. Then, create a sitemap that has URLs from all of the sites that will be covered. You may opt to make just one sitemap that includes URLs from every site or you may make multiple sitemaps, one for each site. Finally, you will need to use Google's Search Console to submit the sitemap.
If your website is one that has a target audience of multiple languages or regions, you are able to use your sitemap to serve Google with the identifier of this. For instance, someone may have a website entirely in English and it is aimed at English speakers all over the world, and there is also the same version of that web site targeted to those who speak German all over the world, as well as those German speakers that live in Switzerland. There will be a unique set of URLs for each of these sites.
Video extensions within sitemaps are a good way to ensure that Google can gather the information about your video that is contained on the site. Interestingly enough, this content may not be discoverable without this extension. Taking the time to submit the sitemap with information about the video, Google will make the video's URL searchable through Google Video. The results will include a thumbnail of the video and any of the information that you have provided about it through the sitemap. You may choose to create a separate sitemap to contain the information for the video, or you can add the information to an existing sitemap.
Using Google's image extension for sitemaps so that any of your images can be discovered through Google Image search results. You will also be able to provide Google more information regarding the image and this will increasingly aid your image in being discovered. You may choose to use separate sitemaps to list the images along with their information, or they can be added to an existing sitemap. You can add information like the location, caption, physical location, title, and license.
Lastly, you can create a mobile sitemap specifically for feature phones by using the sitemap protocol in addition to more tags and name spaces. It should be noted that you are not advised to create this type of sitemap unless you have a particular mobile version of a web page that has been designed for feature phones.
Sitemap extensions are a great way to ensure that your sitemap has the most detailed information about all of the content. When you allow this information to be discovered, you are raising the chance that your site will be discovered by a search engine, and then subsequently presented to anyone that has performed a target search query. Often times, individuals are not aware that the information associated with their images and videos can impact how their content is discovered, but it is just as important as the text content. It simply needs the metadata entered to communicate effectively with the search engine.
Create, edit, customize, and share visual sitemaps integrated with Google Analytics for easy discovery, planning, and collaboration.