Why Submit an XML Sitemap
It’s a good idea to submit your XML sitemap to Google so that they can better crawl your site. They can still crawl without it, but this gives them much better guidance.
What You Need to Get Started
- A Google Search Console account. Google Search Console was previously called Google Webmaster Tools.
- A verified domain. Here’s how to get verified (instructions from Google). Make sure to verify both the www and non-www versions of your domain.
Submitting Your XML Sitemap
I cover steps 1-4 in the post How to Fetch As Google(bot) and Submit Your Site to Google, so I’ll summarize them here, but click over to that post for details.
1. Log in to Google Search Console
2. Enter Your Email Address
3. Enter Your Password
4. Select Your Website URL
Now you are ready to start the steps in this post:
5. Navigate to Crawl -> Sitemaps
Use the navigation on the left side to select the arrow next to Crawl, then the option Sitemaps will reveal.
Click on Sitemaps.
Click on the ADD/TEST SITEMAP button, which is located in the top right corner.
6. Tell Google Search Console the URL of Your XML Sitemap
Complete the box that asks for the URL of your sitemap and then click Test.
7. View Your Test Result
Near the top of your screen, a yellow bar will appear, with a button.
Click View test result on the yellow bar.
8. Check for Errors
Make sure you don’t have any errors in the test results. If you do, resolve these, then go back to Step 5 in this blog post.
If you don’t have any errors, click Close test to continue.
9. Submit Your Sitemap
Currently, there is no way to submit your sitemap from the test results screen, like you probably want to!
Click on ADD/TEST Sitemap again.
Complete the URL of your XML sitemap again.
10. Refresh the Page
Another yellow bar will appear, telling you that your sitemap has been submitted.
On the yellow bar, click the Refresh the page link.
11. Check for and Resolve any Warnings
If you have warnings, click on them to see what they are.
The most common warning I see is that the server is slow to respond. This is usually temporary and may go away if you re-submit later.
Resolve any warnings.
Under the headings Submitted and Indexed, you’ll likely see the word Pending.
12. Check Back in a Few Minutes
Pending and indexed will update to show the number of items submitted and indexed.
Warming! This could take much longer than a few minutes.
Other Things You Might Want to Do in Google Search Console
Now that you know your way around a little bit, here are a few areas to explore in Google Search Console. There are many more, but this is a good way to get started with viewing information from Google and submitting any new changes on your site to them.
- Check to see if your site has been penalized under Search Traffic -> Manual Actions
- Check for Crawl Errors (like 404/Page Not Found or other errors) under Crawl -> Crawl Errors.
- Submit any new URLs or existing URLs with content changes to Google using the Fetch as Google feature.