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Submit a sitemap in Google Search Console

Use case

Tell Google about important pages on your site, track search results data for your properties, and improve site indexing.

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1. If you have a WordPress website, install a plugin like Yoast SEO or Rank Math. For Yoast, go to SEO > General > Features and click on the ? icon to find the sitemap URL. For Rank Math, go to Rank Math > Sitemap Settings and locate the sitemap URL.

A sitemap URL looks like this: https://www.example.com/sitemap_index.xml.

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2. If you're not using WordPress, download and install Screaming Frog. Select sitemap > XML sitemaps from the top menu, click Export and save to file.

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3. Add your website on Google Search Console and verify ownership by editing your DNS.

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4. Set up your website on Google Search Console: click on Search Property > +Add Property and enter your website URL in Domain.

Verify ownership of your website through one of these ways:

  • HTML file verification: Download the HTML file and upload it to your site’s root folder.
  • HTML Tag: Copy the meta provided by Google and add it to your site’s <head> section.
  • Google Analytics: If you’re using the same account for GA and GSC, click Verify button in your GA.
  • Google Tag Manager (GTM): If you’re already using the GTM container snippet on your site, you can auto-verify the ownership of your website at Google Search Console (GSC).
  • DNS record: Copy and paste the Google-provided code into your site’s DNS configuration. Log into your hosting account, go to cPanel, and choose Advanced DNS Zone Editor to add GSC code as a TXT record. You can ask your domain provider for help. Wait for a couple of hours to verify.
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5. Create a sitemap that includes all the URLs for your verified sites, or multiple sitemaps if you want to separate each site or have more than 50,000 pages to include.

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6. Include pages, posts, canonical URLs, last modification times, and hreflang tags in your XML sitemap for maximum SEO value.

Include web pages, tags, posts, media content, and archive pages, as well as pages with high-quality content, which are more likely to bring organic traffic to your site. Add a sitemap extension to point to additional media types like news, images, and videos.

If you have two versions of a page, only list the one you want to appear in search results. For example, if you have two versions of your site (www and non-www), pick one as your canonical URL and use HTTP 301 redirects for your non-canonical URL.

Use hreflang to indicate alternate URLs for different regions and languages. For example:

<url>
  <loc>https://www.example.com/page1/</loc> 
  <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="en"     href="https://www.example.com/page1en/" /> 
  <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="de" href="https://www.example.com/page1de/" /> 
  <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="es" href="https://www.example.com/page1es/" />
</url>
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7. Remove pages from your sitemap that are password-protected, have thin or duplicate content, or include session IDs.

These will hurt your SEO.

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8. If you have multiple sitemap files, create a sitemap index file by listing all sitemap files in <sitemap> tags and their URLs in <loc> tags.

For example:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
  <sitemapindex xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9">
    <sitemap>
      <loc>http://www.example.com/sitemap1.xml.gz</loc>
    </sitemap>
    <sitemap>
      <loc>http://www.example.com/sitemap2.xml.gz</loc>
    </sitemap>
  </sitemapindex>

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9. Upload your sitemap file or files to the root directory of your website.

Record the URL of the sitemap file or sitemap index file.

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10. In Google Search Console, click on Sitemaps in the side panel, remove any outdated sitemaps, go to the Add a new sitemap section, and enter the URL of your sitemap file or index file.

For URL-prefix property, submit only URLs with a specified prefix. For a domain property, include all subdomains and protocols.

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Current Playbook:

Submit a sitemap in Google Search Console

Aug 17, 2021

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