Clean Up XML Sitemaps with Search Console

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 instantly assist rankings, however in my expertise a sitemap usually gives a lift in natural visitors, particularly for brand spanking new websites and people with hundreds of pages or extra.

The screenshot beneath from Search Console is for visitors to a brand new passion website. It submitted a sitemap in late Could 2023. Natural search visitors improved in early June after which declined a few months later, however to not the earlier degree.

Natural search visitors to a brand new passion website shortly improved after submitting a sitemap after which declined, however to not the earlier degree. Click on picture to enlarge.

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 ought to be a transparent path for Google to navigate the location and embody solely URLs supposed to drive visitors.

To confirm, submit the sitemap to Search Console and permit a number 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.

Screenshot from Search Console of "Submitted sitemaps" page

To confirm a sitemap, navigate in Search Console to Indexing > Sitemaps. Click on “See web page indexing” beneath the three dots beside the sitemap URL. Click on picture to enlarge.

Within the report, search for causes for not indexing, corresponding to:

  • Nonexistent (404) pages.
  • Pages with redirects.
  • Pages with noindex tags.
  • Pages with conflicting canonical tags.
  • Duplicate pages, whereby listed the model 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 approach to instruct Google which pages are vital, though together with solely indexable pages in a sitemap is an effective first step.

Screenshot of Search Console's "Why pages aren't indexed" report

Search Console’s “See web page indexing” report lists causes “Why pages aren’t listed.” Click on picture to enlarge.

Video Pages

Utilizing sitemaps, Search Console can establish pages with movies, though in my testing the first sitemap web page confirmed, incorrectly, solely zeros within the “Found movies” column, presumably as a consequence of a bug.

Screenshot of Search Console's primary "Submitted sitemaps" page

Search Console’s major sitemap web page lists zeros beneath the “Found movies,” probably as a consequence of a bug. Click on picture to enlarge.

Ignore the zeroes and test the “See video web page indexation” report itemizing the URLs from that sitemap with listed movies or errors.

Screenshot of main sitemap page with the "See video page indexing" option.

The “See video web page indexation” report lists the URLs with listed movies or errors. Click on picture to enlarge.

Higher Crawls

Cleansing up sitemaps ensures clean crawls from Googlebot and thus elevated indexing. Error-free sitemaps are particularly vital for websites with hundreds (or thousands and thousands) of URLs or many beneath the “Found however not crawled” and “Crawled however not but listed” classes.

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