A sitemap is a place where all possible URLs or pages of your website are listed. A sitemap is a great way of informing search engines and sometimes users all the URLs available on your site.
Sitemaps can be of various formats
- XML Sitemaps – Sitemaps which are of the .xml format.
- HTML – An HTML page with all links on your site.
- RSS, mRSS, and Atom 1.0 – An XML file which contains the URL to a feed.
Sitemaps can also be created based on the media type. This is to inform different GoogleBots relevant information.
- Image Sitemap – Googlebot Images
- News Sitemap – Googlebot News
- Video Sitemap – Googlebot Video
We can inform Google and Bing about all these sitemaps using various methods.
Why Submit sitemap to Google and Bing
When you submit your sitemap to Google and Bing you will get data on if there are any errors in those sitemaps. It also informs the webmaster if the the crawler is able to access the sitemap or not.
The other benefit of submitting a sitemap to Google and bing is that you will get lot of data on search indexation which is not possible using other means. When you submit your sitemap to Google search console you get to see valuable data like indexed to submit ratio. These URLs can be exposed to further investigation if you see the ratios are too low.
How to submit Sitemap To Google
There are 2 ways you can submit your sitemap to Google
Mention it in Robots.txt
Robots.txt is a file directive which you can use to instruct search engines on how to crawl your website. Here you can let search engines know which files and folders it is allowed or disallowed from crawling. This is a file which all search engines download before crawling a website. This makes it a great place to mention your sitemap URL. Search engines pick it up the sitemap URL from here and start crawling.
If you have multiple sitemaps then just mention the index sitemap file which lists all subcategory sitemaps.
Submit via Search Console – Recommended
Although the above method gets the job done we can’t know critical details about the health of our sitemaps like protocol errors, HTTP errors and index to submit ratio. This can be only found when you use Google Search Console to submit your sitemap.
To do so the pre-requisite is that you have verified your site using Google Search Console. Once done follow the steps below
Step 1: Pick the site you want to add a sitemap to from the search console dashboard.
Step 2: Visit Sitemaps under crawl section in the sidebar. And click on Add sitemap Red Button on the top right. If you don’t see it then you must ask the search console administrator of your site for “Owner” access or “Full User Access.
Step 3: Enter the .XML sitemap URL and click “test”. This will give you a list of all errors in your sitemap. This will give a list of all errors your sitemap has.
Step 4: Once you fix these errors you can submit the sitemap.
Once the submission process is done Google crawler takes time crawling these URLs. All submitted URLs doesn’t necessarily get indexed.
How to submit Sitemap to Bing
There are three ways you can do this –
Mention the sitemap in the Robots.txt file
Both Google and Bing, in fact most search engines pick up the sitemap files from the robots.txt file. So robots.txt is a good starting point to announce all URLs on your site to all search engines not just Google.
By pinging Bing using a HTTP request
Bing gives you an option to submit your sitemap using a simple HTTP request ping. To do this you have to replace the highlighted section of the below URL with your sitemap URL
Enter the URL in any edited URL in any browser and you should see a message from bing like the one below… Thank
Submit via Bing Webmaster Dashboard – Recommended
You can submit your sitemap to Bing while adding your site to Bing Webmaster Tools.
Step 1: For this visit Bing Webmaster Tools and signup.
Step 2: Add your site URL in the box provided below.
Step 3: Enter the Sitemap URL in the box as mentioned in the image below. Finish filling all details and hit save.
If you have already verified your site with Bing Webmaster but haven’t submitted the sitemap you can do so by visiting the Configure My Site > Sitemap. Once on the page enter the sitemap URL and hit submit.
Sitemap Protocols and Best Practices
Before you submit your sitemap you have to make sure it follows a set of best practices.
- Make sure your sitemaps are clean.
- No sitemap should contain more than 50,000 URLs or have 50MB in data.
- Follow the sitemap protocol sitemap protocol.
- If your site has many URLs under each category then consider creating and submitting multiple sitemaps. This helps you understand which category URLs have an indexation problem with Google.
- If you have multiple sitemaps make sure you use an index sitemap file which lists all XML sitemaps in a single file.