Sitemaps. How do you feel about them? Do you thank the Google Gods for checking yours out?
Hmmm. Chances are you probably answered no to that one. You’re possibly wondering what a sitemap is, or thinking should I even care. That’s cool, I’m going to explain to you (briefly, don’t worry) what a sitemap is and how you can submit a new one to Google. It’s a question I’m asked a lot, so I’m going to focus on the submission of the sitemap itself in this post.
Note: this post assumes you already have Google Search Console set up for your website. If you don’t, I’ve got you – check out my post “How to set up Google Search Console for your website” for more info.
What is a sitemap?
I’m going to keep this super brief and completely non-technical, so stick with me. A sitemap is a nice, organised list of all the great content on your website so you can tell Google what to check out and what to ignore.
In the words of Google:
“A sitemap is a file where you provide information about the pages, videos, and other files on your site, and the relationships between them. Search engines like Google read this file to more intelligently crawl your site.”
I also like this definition from Yoast:
“A good XML sitemap acts as a roadmap of your website which leads Google to all your important pages.”
Sounds simple enough right? Great let’s continue.
Do I need to submit my sitemap to Google?
Years ago, in the SEO world submitting your sitemap to all the search engines was a “thing”. Luckily for us, it’s 2020 and generally we don’t have to worry about it so much. Google will crawl your site as it likes and everything is good.
But sometimes when you make changes to your SEO, or changes to your website structure you might like to politely request Google crawl your site now – so the changes are reflected in their index faster.
In some cases Google might not have crawled your site and you may wish to also gently persuade them to do so, in a faster manner.
How to submit your sitemap to Google
- Log into Google Search Console: https://search.google.com/search-console
- Navigate to the “Sitemaps” area
- You will see a screen like below, where you need to add your sitemap URL – if you have a WordPress website and are using Yoast, then your sitemap will be at /sitemap_index.xml
- Click the submit button and the success message will appear. Click “Got It” and you’re done!
Google will now index your site (well, when they’re ready) and the latest version of your sitemap will be ready to be searched. Easy!
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