The world of SEO is complex, but one crucial step in optimizing your website for search engines is submitting a sitemap to Google.
This guide on “How to submit sitemap to Google?” will walk you through the process in an easy-to-understand manner.
A sitemap can help Google understand your site structure and find new pages faster, making it an essential part of your SEO strategy.
Whether you’re a seasoned webmaster or a beginner, this article provides the knowledge you need to effectively submit your sitemap to Google.
4 Steps to Submit a Sitemap to Google
Google offers a free tool known as Google Search Console (GSC), previously Google Webmaster Tools, to help you submit your sitemap directly.
Note: If a GSC account isn’t already set up for you, you must create one. Reference our guide on Google Search Console for setup assistance.
Follow these steps to submit a sitemap to Google:
- Log into Google Search Console
- Navigate to the ‘Sitemaps’ Report
- Locate Your Sitemap URL
- Submit a New Sitemap
Step 1: Log into Google Search Console
Start by logging into your Google Search Console account.
Next, in the upper left corner, choose the website for which you wish to submit a sitemap. This applies if you have multiple properties under the same account.
Step 2: Navigate to the ‘Sitemaps’ Report
On the left-hand side menu, locate the “Sitemaps” report within the “Indexing” section and click on it.
This is where you can oversee all your sitemaps. It holds two primary sections:
- “Add a new sitemap”
- “Submitted sitemaps”
Our focus will be on the first section.
Step 3: Locate Your Sitemap URL
There are two main types of sitemaps: XML sitemaps and HTML sitemaps. For SEO purposes, we’ll concentrate on XML sitemaps.
Here’s how you can locate your XML sitemap:
Try the default location. Your XML sitemap is likely found at https://yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml.
Use a search operator. By searching Google with “site:yourdomain.com filetype:xml,” you should be able to locate your sitemap.
Inspect your robots.txt file. A link to your sitemap might be contained in your robots.txt file (found at https://yourdomain.com/robots.txt).
If an XML sitemap isn’t available, you’ll need to create one. Refer to our guide on how to create an XML sitemap.
Step 4: Submit a New Sitemap
You can submit your sitemap in the “Add a new sitemap” section of the “Sitemaps” report.
Just input the URL and select “Submit.”
You’ll receive a message confirming the successful submission of your sitemap.
After a while, your sitemap will appear in the “Submitted sitemaps” list. Here, you’ll find details about the submission time, last read time, and the number of pages Google found.
Most importantly, the status of your sitemap submission will be displayed. A green “Success” status indicates no issues.
If you encounter a “Couldn’t fetch” or “Has errors” status, refer to the report’s suggestions to address the issues.
For more information about potential issues and their detection, refer to this post’s “Sitemap Issues” section.
How to Cross-Submit Sitemaps for Multiple Sites?
If you’re managing multiple websites, you can streamline your sitemap submission process by consolidating all your URLs into one or more sitemaps. These sitemaps should be stored in a single location and encompass all your verified sites.
You have two options:
Create a unified sitemap that includes URLs from various websites, even those from different domains.
For instance, a sitemap located at https://host1.example.com/sitemap.xml may include:
Create separate sitemaps for each website, all housed in one location. For example:
You can submit these cross-site sitemaps hosted in one location using either Google Search Console or robots.txt.
Cross-Submission Using Google Search Console
Verify ownership of all the sites included in the sitemap.
Create a sitemap (or more, if you prefer) encompassing URLs from all the sites you wish to cover. You can include the sitemaps in a sitemap index file and work with that instead.
Submit your sitemaps or sitemap index file using Google Search Console.
Cross-Submission Using Robots.txt
Create individual sitemaps for each website. Ensure each sitemap only includes URLs from its respective site.
Upload all sitemaps to a site under your control, e.g., https://sitemaps.example.com.
For each individual site, ensure the robots.txt file references its respective sitemap. For instance, if you’ve created a sitemap for https://example.com and hosted it at https://sitemaps.example.com/sitemap-example-com.xml, reference this sitemap in the robots.txt file at https://example.com/robots.txt.
Example of a robots.txt file for https://example.com:
- robots.txt file of https://example.com/
- sitemap: https://sitemaps.example.com/sitemap-example-com.xml
What Should Your Sitemap Contain?
A sitemap serves as a roadmap for search engines, guiding them to the important pages on your website that you want to be indexed and displayed in search results.
Here’s what an XML sitemap should include:
- Indexable URLs: Only include the URLs you want search engines to index. URLs with a “noindex” tag should not be added since these are the pages you prefer not to be indexed.
- ‘Lastmod’ Value: This value offers information about when the page was last modified or updated.
- ‘Hreflang’ Value: If your website has localized versions of specific pages, you can specify these in the sitemap using the ‘hreflang’ value.
However, some elements should be excluded from your sitemap:
- Non-Canonical Pages: When multiple page versions are identical or nearly identical, only include the URL with the canonical tag.
- 3xx or 4xx Pages: URLs returning a 3xx (redirect) or 4xx (client error) status code should not be included in the sitemap.
- ‘Changefreq’ and ‘Priority’ Values: These values are ignored by Google, so including them in your sitemap is unnecessary.
Fortunately, if you’re using a well-established content management system (CMS) like WordPress or Wix, or if you’ve used a sitemap generator, these best practices are already being followed.
These platforms typically ensure your sitemap includes everything necessary and excludes unneeded elements.
How to Detect and Fix Sitemap Issues?
Detecting and correcting sitemap issues is crucial to maintaining a healthy website. A comprehensive technical SEO audit can help you identify these issues.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to detecting and fixing sitemap issues:
- Initiate a Technical SEO Audit: Start by conducting a comprehensive website audit.
- Identify the Issues: Once the audit is complete, focus on the “Issues” tab and search for “sitemap.” This will present you with a list of potential problems associated with your sitemap.
- Analyze Affected Pages: If there are any issues, a link showing the number of affected pages will appear. Clicking on this link will open a detailed report listing all the pages impacted by the issue.
- Understand the Problem: To understand the problem in detail, click on the “Why and how to fix it” link. This will thoroughly describe the issue and provide instructions on resolving it.
- Fix the Issues: Follow the provided instructions to rectify the issues.
- Re-run the Audit: Once all the issues have been addressed, conduct another audit to resolve all problems.
Remember, Google Search Console’s “Sitemaps” report can also be used to identify any issues with your submitted sitemap.
Google’s guidelines provide a comprehensive error list that covers most of the issues that GSC may detect.
Submitting a sitemap to Google is a significant step towards improving your site’s visibility in search engine results. This guide has provided simple, step-by-step instructions on how to submit sitemap to Google.
These steps will ensure that Google can easily find and index your site’s content, enhancing your SEO efforts. ROI Digitally offers Website Optimization Services that include sitemap creation and optimization. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for more details!
Remember, SEO is an ongoing process, and while submitting a sitemap is crucial, it’s just one piece of the puzzle.
Stay updated with the latest SEO practices to improve your site’s performance.