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.

Site: Search Operator Isn’t True Indicator of All Indexed Pages

August 2, 2017 Source

Site: search operator isn’t a true indicator of all pages that are indexed on that site. Use a sitemap file to submit the URLs you care about.

Internal & Sitemap Links May Override Canonical Tags

July 7, 2017 Source

Google uses a number of factors to determine which URLs to show. Canonicalised pages may still be chosen if you link to them internally and in Sitemaps.

Use Sitemaps With Last Modified for Expired Content

June 16, 2017 Source

Use a last modified date with a regularly updated Sitemap to help get expired pages picked up more quickly.

Split up Sitemaps up to Identify Pages Indexed by Google

June 2, 2017 Source

There is no way to get information on which specific URLs are indexed in Google. If you want to see what URLs have been indexed by Google, you can split the sitemap up into smaller parts. However, you shouldn’t focus on getting high numbers of URLs indexed, but more on the relevance of indexed pages and content.

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.

Related Topics

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