How to Submit a Sitemap to Google Search Console

Last Updated Jan. 21, 2024 10:37 pm PST | By Luke Ross

Google’s Sitemap Formats and Best Practices

Google acknowledges various sitemap formats as outlined by the sitemaps protocol, each with its unique advantages and limitations. It’s crucial to select the format that best aligns with your website’s needs and structure, as Google does not favor any particular format. Below is a comparison of the different sitemap formats available:

Comparison of Sitemap Formats

  • XML Sitemap: XML sitemaps are highly adaptable, making them the most comprehensive option for detailing your site’s content, including images, videos, news, and localized page versions.
  • Advantages:
    • Highly flexible and extendable.Offers detailed information about your site’s URLs.Plugins for sitemap generation are readily available for CMS users.
    • May be challenging to manage.
    • Complex maintenance for large sites or those with frequently changing URLs.
  • RSS, mRSS, and Atom 1.0: These formats are structurally similar to XML sitemaps and are typically generated automatically by CMS, simplifying the process.
  • Advantages:
    • Automatically generated by most CMS platforms.Useful for informing Google about video content on your site.
    • Limited to video content information, excluding images or news.
    • Can be difficult to manage.
  • Text Sitemap: This format is the simplest, listing only the URLs of HTML and other indexable pages.
  • Advantages:
    • Simple to create and maintain, ideal for large sites.
    • Only includes HTML and other indexable pages.

Sitemap Best Practices

Following the sitemaps protocol, it’s essential to adhere to sitemap best practices concerning sitemap size limits, file encoding, location, and URL properties. Key points include:

  • Sitemap Size Limits: A single sitemap should not exceed 50MB (uncompressed) or 50,000 URLs. For larger sitemaps, divide them into multiple files or use a sitemap index file.
  • File Encoding and Location: Sitemaps must be UTF-8 encoded and can be hosted anywhere on your site. However, submission through Search Console is recommended for comprehensive coverage.
  • URL Properties: Always use fully-qualified, absolute URLs. Google crawls and indexes URLs exactly as listed in your sitemap.

Creating and Submitting Your Sitemap

Creating a sitemap involves deciding which URLs to include, representing the canonical versions of your content.

Depending on your site’s architecture and size, you may let your CMS generate a sitemap, create it manually for smaller sites, or use tools for larger sitemaps. Once created, submit your sitemap to Google via Search Console, robots.txt, or WebSub for Atom or RSS feeds.

Here’s an example of an XML sitemap generated by Yoast SEO.

Step 1: Once your property is verified in Google Search Console, go to ‘Sitemaps’ in the left navigation tab under ‘Indexing’

Step 2: Type in the sitemap URL you are submitting in the search bar, then click submit.

Step 3: If successful, the status will say ‘Success’ with the amount of discovered pages. If failed, it will say ‘Couldn’t Fetch’

Cross-Submitting Sitemaps for Multiple Sites

For those managing multiple websites, sitemaps can be cross-submitted by including URLs from all verified sites in a single sitemap or individual sitemaps hosted in one location. This can be done through Search Console or by referencing each sitemap in the respective site’s robots.txt file.

Troubleshooting Sitemaps

Google Search Console offers tools for sitemap troubleshooting, providing insights into potential errors and the last access by Googlebot.

By Luke Ross, SEO Gazette LLC

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