|SEO||– 17 min read –||October 30, 2018|
How To Submit Your Website To Google In 2018
Do I have to submit my sitemap to be found on Google?
Sitemaps become more important the larger your site gets. This is because Google has over 130 trillion pages to crawl and index. Sitemaps act as directions for Google and help them crawl pages more efficiently.
And it's never a bad thing to make things easier for Google when it comes to SEO. In order to do this, you'll need to use Google's own tool, Google Search Console.
What is Google Search Console?
What is a Sitemap?
The sitemap you'll be submitting to Google is an XML sitemap.
Below is an example of an auto-generated XML sitemap of an http domain created by the Yoast SEO plugin.
Images and videos can be included and indexed as content on GSC, which can be found in these sitemaps. Looking at this example, the six sitemaps contain URLs of pages within their category. For example, the "/post-sitemap.xml" contains URLs of articles on our blog.
If you open a sitemap file (such as the examples above) more sitemap URLs will be provided. These sitemaps are individual files for specific pages. Example: If I opened the "post-sitemap.xml" file, this would show me sitemap files for each of our blog posts we've published.
You can either upload the entire sitemap known as "/sitemap_index.xml" which includes all sitemaps (such as the ones listed above) or you can upload individual sitemaps.
This has been great for indexing specific categories and pages whenever an update or new page was made within a category. Now it's far simpler (will explain later)
Depending on what web host or CMS you're using, a sitemap may already exist for your domain. In most cases, it doesn't and you'll need to create one.
Building a Sitemap from scratch
Here are some excellent sitemap generators that can help you do this:
Recommended: If you plan on creating the sitemap yourself, it will look similar to the example above. Use an application or tool like Microsoft Excel to create the XML sitemap on a spreadsheet. Use a guide as a base for your sitemap code. Or, you can create a sitemap using one of the previously discussed XML sitemap generators. Once created, you'll export the sitemap as an XML file then upload to GSC.
Not recommended: Search engines are more willing to accept an XML over an HTML file since it's a cleaner code design and easier to index (if made correctly). An HTML file is easier to view for visitors on your website, though you can still use it for search engine indexing. For an HTML file, create a webpage with links to each page you want to be indexed on Google. Once created, submit this page's URL to GSC for indexing.
Building a Sitemap using a plugin
Note: This plugin is only on a couple of CMS platforms (Wordpress, TYPO3, and Magento 2) so research which CMS you're using provides a plugin similar to this for sitemap creation.
XML vs HTML
Both HTML and XML will lead Google's crawlers to your pages.
XML is a simple file that will accurately lead Google to the connected pages that you're indexing. Google can crawl either but HTML was made for human eyes and is what you'll typically find in the footer of a website to locate the page you're looking for. Whereas XML is specifically designed for search engines, which is why we use XML for SEO purposes.
Below is an example of the USPS About subdomain's HTML sitemap index.
- Your site is live, but you may not want Google to index it just yet
- You don't want Google to index your checkout pages
- You don't want Google to index your action completion pages (such as your thank you page)
Since websites can contain SO many numbers of pages, it's smart to suggest to Google which pages you don't want indexed. Any archived, duplicated, or irrelevant pages like a "Thank You" page don't need to be crawled by Google so you'd leave these out and set them in a robots.txt file.
Here's an example of a simple robots.txt file:
The Google Search Console update for 2018
New Data Analysis
- A more accurate view of website content using the Index Coverage report
- Search Analytics data now views the past 16 months using the Performance report
- Using the Links report, you can view valuable information on links pointing to and on your site
- The URL Inspection tool for crawling and indexing of a specific version of a page (instead of just indexing an XML sitemap); the tool includes AMP (accelerated mobile pages, meaning this new update now works with mobile versions of websites), indexing, and even advanced structured data errors to inform what the precise errors are.
- Automatic alerts on issues concerning AMP, crawling, indexing, mobile usability, recipes, and job postings
- If applicable, reporting on the exact HTML code where a problem could exist
- Problem sharing via organization personnel for faster fixing
- Google notifications when issues have been officially resolved
- Easier process of submitting sitemaps
- Submitting individual URLs (arguably the most exciting feature) through the URL Inspection tool
- Adding a new site to the account with enhanced user management
Step by step process of submitting a Sitemap
Go to Google Search Console, click on "Start Now"
Google accepts four different versions of your domain:
Google Search Console recognizes each of these as separate property versions for your domain. You should be indexing all of these because Google views them as separate websites. For this how-to, I'll be indexing our http domain.
Using your menu panel, select "Sitemaps" to continue to the next step.
Again, keep in mind which sitemap version you are indexing in your property on GSC because you need to match the same versions (i.e. HTTP sitemap with HTTP domain property).
Select "Submit", Google will then crawl all of the pages you've provided and index each one onto the search results pages, if no errors.
- Which file was submitted, crawled, and indexed
- The type of file added
- What date the sitemap was submitted
- When Google last read the sitemap
- The status
- The amount of links found by Google's crawler
Step by step process of submitting a URL
On any page, click on the "URL inspection" feature in the menu panel or select the URL inspection search bar. Paste the specific URL from the property version you are currently viewing on Google Search Console into the search bar.
Your Sitemap has been indexed!
Google still isn't done updating Google Search Console and will be aware of user recommendations, so you too can be apart of the new interface and features! All you have to do is submit feedback on what you'd like to see edited or enhanced.
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