A sitemap is a list of all of the live URLs which exist on a site and is used to inform search engine crawlers of the most important pages and therefore which ones should be crawled and indexed. There are several things to consider when creating sitemaps, as well as understanding how search engines view them. We cover a range of these topics within our Hangout Notes, along with best practice recommendations and advice from Google.

Mobile URLs Won’t Need to be Included in Sitemaps for Mobile-first Indexing

May 30, 2017 Source

It won’t be necessary to include mobile pages in sitemaps for Mobile-first indexing. You should continue to include on your canonical desktop pages. Google’s goal is to keep everything as similar as possible while indexing content on mobile pages.

Sitemap Errors don’t Impact Rankings but can Slow Down Indexing

May 5, 2017 Source

Sitemaps help Google improve crawling and indexing of sites. If a sitemap can’t be properly processed, Google may take longer to index pages as have to rely on normal crawling and indexing to find those pages.

Add Images to Sitemap to Provide Google With More Information

May 2, 2017 Source

Images can be added for each page of your site within your sitemap along with captions and alt-tags using special sitemap extensions.

Sitemap Index Counts Report the Exact Submitted URLs

April 4, 2017 Source

Sitemap Index counts report the exact URL you sumbit including trailing slashes. If Google chooses to index a different copy of the same page, the submitted URL wouldn’t be reported as indexed.

Hreflang Data in Sitemaps May be Shown as ‘No Return’ Error Until the URLs are Recrawled

March 10, 2017 Source

Until pages have been recrawled, you might see hreflang ‘no return hreflang’ errors in search console for hreflang data added to a Sitemap.

Identical Last Modified Dates in Sitemaps for all Pages will be ignored

March 10, 2017 Source

If all the last modified dates in Sitemaps are identical, Google will assume they are incorrect.

Google Automatically Chooses a Preferred Domain Based on Multiple Signals

March 10, 2017 Source

Google uses many factors to determine the canonical domain including redirects, canonicals, internal links, sitemaps and backlinks, so choosing a preferred domain in Search Console is not critical.

Sitemaps Require Absolute URLs and Recommends for Internal Links

February 24, 2017 Source

Relative URLs are fine for internal linking, but Google requires absolute URLs for Sitemaps. Google now recommends using absolute URLs for internal linking to avoid any uncertainty about the preferred protocol.

RSS with Pubsubhubbub to get URLs Indexed

February 10, 2017 Source

You can use an RSS feed with Pubsubhubbub to ping Google with new URLs as an alternative to Sitemaps.

Related Topics

Crawling Indexing Crawl Budget Crawl Errors Crawl Rate Disallow Last Modified Nofollow Noindex RSS Canonicalization Fetch and Render