Learn about sitemaps

A sitemap is a file where you can list the web pages of your site to tell Google and other search engines about the organization of your site content. Search engine web crawlers like Googlebot read this file to more intelligently crawl your site.

Ideally, if your site’s pages are properly linked, our web crawlers can usually discover most of your site. Even so, a sitemap is a helpful tool that can improve the crawling of your site, particularly if your site meets one of the following criteria:

  • Your site is really large. As a result, it’s more likely Google web crawlers might overlook crawling some of your new or recently updated pages.
  • Your site has a large archive of content pages that are isolated or well not linked to each other. If you site pages do not naturally reference each other, you can list them in a sitemap to ensure that Google does not overlook some of your pages.
  • Your site is new and has few external links to it. Googlebot and other web crawlers crawl the web by following links from one page to another. As a result, Google might not discover your pages if no other sites link to them.
  • Your site uses rich media content, is shown in Google News, or uses other sitemaps-compatible annotations. Google can take additional information from sitemaps into account for search, where appropriate.

Also, your sitemap can provide valuable metadata associated with the pages you list in that sitemap: Metadata is information about a webpage, such as when the page was last updated, how often the page is changed, and the importance of the page relative to other URLs in the site.

You can use a sitemap to provide Google with metadata about specific types of content on your pages, including video, image, and mobile content. For example, you can give Google the information about video and image content:

  • A sitemap video entry can specify the video running time, category, and age appropriateness rating.
  • A sitemap image entry can include the image subject matter, type, and license.
Note that use of a sitemap doesn't guarantee you that all the web pages listed in your sitemap can be crawled or indexed as Google processes rely mainly on complex algorithms. In most cases, webmasters benefit from sitemap submission, and in no case can you be penalized for it.

 

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