An XML sitemap helps Google crawl a website, perceive its construction, and uncover extra pages.
For years Google has asserted XML sitemaps in Search Console don’t immediately assist rankings, however in my expertise a sitemap usually offers a lift in natural site visitors, particularly for brand new websites and people with 1000’s of pages or extra.
The screenshot under from Search Console is for site visitors to a brand new passion website that submitted a sitemap in late Could 2023. Natural search site visitors improved in early June after which declined a few months later, however to not the earlier degree.
Presumably Google values sitemaps, or it wouldn’t embody them in Seach Console. However they’re useful solely when correctly formatted and error-free. I’ve seen many sitemaps containing damaged URLs or pages with noindex tags or blocked from crawling.
A sitemap must be a transparent path for Google to navigate the location and embody solely URLs meant to drive site visitors.
To confirm, submit the sitemap to Search Console and permit a couple of weeks for Google to crawl your website. Then return to Search Console and navigate to Indexing > Sitemaps. Click on “See web page indexing” beneath the three dots beside the sitemap URL.
Within the report, search for causes for not indexing, resembling:
- Nonexistent (404) pages.
- Pages with redirects.
- Pages with noindex tags.
- Pages with conflicting canonical tags.
- Duplicate pages, whereby listed the model just isn’t within the sitemap.
Take away all these URLs from the sitemap or repair the errors.
Google ignores precedence and changefreq sitemap attributes. There’s no strategy to instruct Google which pages are vital, though together with solely indexable pages in a sitemap is an efficient first step.
Utilizing sitemaps, Search Console can determine pages with videos, though in my testing the first sitemap web page confirmed, incorrectly, solely zeros within the “Found movies” column, presumably on account of a bug.
Ignore the zeroes and verify the “See video web page indexation” report itemizing the URLs from that sitemap with listed movies or errors.
Cleansing up sitemaps ensures clean crawls from Googlebot and thus elevated indexing. Error-free sitemaps are particularly vital for websites with 1000’s (or hundreds of thousands) of URLs or many underneath the “Found however not crawled” and “Crawled however not but listed” classes.