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Sitemaps in Google Search Console - Tech Treasure
November 27, 2021, 9:28 am

Sitemaps in Google Search Console

Technology Desk
  • Published Friday, October 22, 2021,
  • 56 Seen
google search console
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And today, I’ll talk about how to use the Search Console sitemaps report. By the end of this article you should be able to understand what a sitemap is, decide whether you need one or not, and learn how to submit a sitemap and track its status using Search Console.

Google Search Console Sitemaps:

A sitemap is a signal about which URLs you would like Google to crawl on your site. It may provide information on URLs that were recently created or modified, and give us some extra information about them.

google search console
google search console

Google supports four main ways for you to provide additional information. You can extend a URL with images included in it, you can also extend a URL with videos included in it, you can include information about alternate languages or country versions with hreflang annotations, and, finally, for news sites, you can use a special variation of sitemaps, to give us information about the most recent updates. Note that this information won’t necessarily be highlighted on Search Console. But you can still provide it in your sitemap.

But if I don’t have a sitemap, will Google find all my pages?

Usually, if you have a relatively small website, and your pages are properly linked, Googlebot can discover your content. So, you don’t need to worry about the sitemap. However, if your site meets one of the following criteria, a sitemap might help Google decide what and when to crawl your website.

Please, remember, that using a sitemap doesn’t guarantee that all your pages will be crawled and indexed. But in most cases, your site will benefit from having a sitemap. And there is no disadvantage for having one. In addition, sitemaps don’t replace normal crawling. And not including URLs in a sitemap, won’t result in those URLs no longer being crawled.

Easy Way to Sitemap Create:

Ideally, the system running your website will make sitemap files for you, automatically. For example, you can find a WordPress plug-in, or a Drupal extension if you use those content management systems. Check the documentation from your provider, as every platform is slightly different.

We recommend finding a way to automatically generate sitemaps, rather than creating them manually. Usually, this will involve running code on your server so if you’re not a developer, you might need help from one. There are limits to the number of URLs and the maximum size of a sitemap file.

If you need more space, you can make multiple sitemap files. You can also submit all of these sitemap files together, in the form of an index sitemap file. Doing that makes it a bit easier to track them all together in one place. To learn more about sitemap’s formats and guidelines please watch this YouTube video:

However, even if we already discovered a sitemap through other means, you can still submit it using this report, in order to track errors and warnings. So, let’s look at the report. Open Search Console and find the sitemaps report.

If you have already submitted one or more sitemaps, you’ll find the following information about each sitemap that you submitted the sitemap URL; the type or format of sitemaps, such as:

  • XML,
  • TXT,
  • RSS, or
  • Atom.

The last submission date using this repor. The date it was last read by Google. The crawl status such as Success, Has errors, Couldn’t fetch, and others.

The number of URLs discovered in the sitemap. You will note an icon next to each successful sitemap. Clicking it will lead you to the index coverage status report for the specific sitemap.

google search console submitt
google search console submitt

If you want to submit a new sitemap, simply open the sitemaps report, and submit the URL. You will need owner permission for a property in order to submit it. If you submitted a sitemap but it’s not relevant anymore, you can delete it from Search Console. But know that deleting a sitemap, removes it from this report, but doesn’t make Google forget the sitemap or any URLs listed on it.

In order for Google to forget the sitemap, just remove it from your site and return a 404. After some attempts, Google will give up and completely stop refreshing the sitemap. But this has nothing to do with the URLs in the sitemap.

If you truly need Google to stop visiting the URLs listed in a sitemap, you will need to return a 404 or use a robot.txt rule for the URLs that you want to block. This is what you would do in order for Google to stop crawling this page.

If your goal is to remove the URL from the Google index altogether, you should either use the no index directive or require HTTP authentication for users to see your page.

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