Submitting Your XML Sitemap to Search Engines: Why and How
SEO and content marketing experts Gillian Cobb and Freddy Hunt discuss why and how you should be submitting your XML sitemaps to Google and Bing.
Why You Should Submit an XML Sitemap
The main reasons to submit a sitemap to search engines like Google is to ensure the most recent version of your site is being indexed and to monitor index status.
If you’ve done some recent updates to your site, you may not reap the benefits of those updates until the current version of your site is crawled. The crawl process will take your recent changes into account and rank you accordingly.
Being able to monitor the indexing process allows you to troubleshoot and be more proactive if an issue pops up, which can make a huge difference in keeping your site optimized.
What Is an XML Sitemap?
An XML (Extensible Markup Language) sitemap is a text file that contains all the URLs on your website. You have an XML sitemap, even if you don’t know about it. Content management systems like WordPress, Shopify and Squarespace will automatically generate an XML sitemap for you, though you may prefer to use other tools like Yoast SEO or All-In-One SEO to make fine adjustments to your settings.
To find your domain, simply add /sitemap.xml to your domain, like so:
What Do Sitemaps Do?
As the name suggested, sitemaps offer search engine crawlers a comprehensive overview of all the URLs associated with your domain. Within those URLs is even more information contained within your site, including:
- Details on when individual URLs were last updated
- How important a URL is
- Whether other versions of the URL exist or have been created in another language
How to Submit an XML Sitemap
Once you’ve found the URL leading to your sitemap, you can go to your analytics accounts for each search engine and add it. This is the digital version of handing crawlers a map of your site to ensure all URLs are indexed correctly.
Submitting a Sitemap to Google
More than 86% of internet searches take place on Google. That makes Google Search Console the most important place to submit your sitemap. You can also use Google Search Console to look at other important site metrics like Core Web Vitals and Page Speed Insights.
- Log into Google Search Console.
- Find the “Sitemaps” tab on the left sidebar.
- Navigate to the “add new sitemap” section.
- Copy and paste your URL YourDomain.com/sitemap.xml
- Hit submit
That’s it, you’re done!
Submitting a Sitemap to Bing
Bing captures less than 10% of all internet queries, but that is still billions of sessions per month. After you’re done on Google Search Console, slide over to Bing and upload your sitemap on Bing as well.
- log in to Bing Webmaster Tools
- Find the “Sitemaps” tab in the left sidebar menu.
- In the upper right-hand corner of the Sitemaps page, you’ll see a “Submit Sitemap” button.
- Enter your URL: YourDomain.com/sitemap.xml.
- Hit submit
And you are done!
Keeping up with Sitemap Updates
It can be beneficial to employ a plug-in on your site that automatically updates your sitemap as new pages are added. You also have the option to submit pages individually within Google Search Console. You don’t need to update your sitemap every time you make changes to your website, but it should be a part of your monthly website maintenance.
You can also use Google Search Console to submit a single URL.
Need Help Optimizing Your Site?
Oneupweb’s dedicated SEO services can help make smart changes to your website’s sitemap and help with maintenance and other technical improvements to enhance page speed and overall performance. Take SEO off your team’s to-do list. Get in touch or call 231-922-9977 today. (Tomorrow is cool, too.)