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FAQs regarding sitemaps
FAQs regarding sitemaps

First of all, you need to consider what a sitemap is and why it is used by website owners.

A sitemap is a file in which you provide information about pages, videos and other files on your site, as well as the relationships between them. Search engines like Google read this file to crawl your site more accurately.
It's also worth adding that the sitemap tells Google which pages and files you have on your site, and also provides valuable information about those files: for example, when a page was last refreshed and also information about the version of a page in other languages.

You can read more about how to create a sitemap file for your site in this article.

Below are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about sitemaps.

Q: Do I need a sitemap if I have a one page site?
A: Small websites (there is no specific threshold) generally don't need a sitemap file since Google can easily find all pages. However, even then, making one is fine, and can help with recognizing changes quickly. 

Q: How to add (submit) a sitemap in Search Console?
A: "Add/ Submit" a sitemap to Google means telling us where to find it on your site. The file itself is not uploaded to Google. Using the sitemap Report, you can inform Google about new sitemaps, view the history of submitting sitemap files, and also find out about the errors our system encountered when analyzing the sitemap file. More details.

Q: My site is built on the WordPress, Wix, or similar platform. What do I need to do in this case with the sitemap?
A: If you are using a service that allows you to quickly create a website based on page templates and navigation elements, then the sitemap will usually be generated automatically. By searching for the word sitemap in the service documentation, you can find out if the sitemap is generated or you are advised to prepare it yourself. In the latter case, you will also receive instructions on how to do this.

Q: I submitted a sitemap but my URLs have not yet been [crawled / indexed]. Isn't that what a sitemap is for?
A: Submitting a sitemap helps make sure Google knows about the URLs on your site. This can be especially useful if our crawler cannot easily detect your content (for example, pages accessible only through a form). However, this is not a guarantee that these URLs will be crawled or indexed. We use information from sitemaps to improve our usual crawling and discovery processes. 

Q: How can I make sure my sitemap is properly understood by Google?
A: If you're using a common service to create your sitemap file, then it'll almost always be ok. If there are issues, Search Console would inform you of them. If you're making a sitemap file yourself, here are a few guidelines you can follow to ensure your sitemap is properly understood by Google.  

Q: If I set all of my pages to a priority of 1.0, will those pages get a higher ranking (or will Google crawl them faster) than other people's pages with a priority of 0.8?
A: No, Google does not currently use the <priority> attribute in sitemaps.

Q: Does it make sense to submit a sitemap if all metadata (<changefreq>, <priority>, etc.) is the same for every URL, or if I'm not sure if it's accurate?
A: Google ignores the <priority> and <changefreq> values, so don't add them. Also worth noting, Google reads the <lastmod>, but if you distort this value, we stop to read it.

Q: What is the best sitemap file format?
A: We recommend XML sitemap protocol as defined at sitemaps.org. XML sitemaps have the advantage of being updatable: you can start simple if you like (just listing your urls), but - unlike a text sitemap - you can easily update your XML sitemap later. to include more metadata. XML Sitemaps are also more complete than Atom or RSS feed presented as Sitemaps, as feeds typically only list your most recent URLs (not all the URLs that search engines need to know about).

Q: I am getting errors when trying to add a sitemap. Sitemap report showing errors. What should I do?
A: Information about errors may appear in the report on sitemaps, actions that will help in solving them are described here.

Q from PE: Do I need to create a separate sitemap for pages that are no longer available on the website and need to be removed from the search? Does this method help to remove them faster?
A: You can temporarily submit URLs for recrawling in a sitemap file if they have moved or been removed. However, remember to remove the sitemap file after a month or so to prevent confusion (on your site, and on Google's side) over time.

Q from PE: Is it true that the presence of a symbol “_” in the sitemap name (e. g. sitemap_1.xml ) increases the chance of errors in the search console? If yes, then what other symbols are also worth avoiding in the sitemaps names?
A: No. You can name your sitemap file in any way which you like. 

Q from PE: What is the optimal number of URLs for a sitemap? Is it better to create 4 sitemaps with 40 000 urls or 16 sitemaps with 10 000 URL's or even 32 with 5 000 URLs?
A: There is no optimal number of URLs in a sitemap file. Sometimes making smaller sitemap files makes it easier for you to recognize issues within a sitemap file. On Google's side, all URLs from the sitemaps go into a common "bucket" and are processed together, be it from 1 sitemap file or from 1000 files.

Q from PE: Should the sitemap be located in the root directory of the website?
A: You can locate a sitemap file anywhere on your website. If you have multiple sites verified, or use robots.txt to submit sitemap files, it can be hosted on other sites too.


Why is my site not being indexed? And other frequently asked questions about indexing.
Let's first take a very brief look at how Google Search works in general.
Formation of search results on web pages takes place in three stages:
  • Crawling - after finding the URL of a page, Googlebot visits it (crawls) in order to get information about what is published on it. In doing so, it analyzes both text and non-text content, as well as general design, to determine exactly where the page should appear in search results. The more accurately the materials on your site are classified, the more accurately we will be able to match them with the search queries of users.
  • Indexing - after finding a page, you need to find out what kind of content is hosted on it. This process is called indexing. Google analyzes the content of the page, organizes the images and videos found on it, etc. The resulting information is stored in the Google index - a huge database hosted on many computers.
  • Results Display and Ranking - When a user enters a query, Google searches its index for the most relevant results based on numerous factors. The ranking is performed according to the given algorithms, and Google does not increase the page positions for a fee.

Now, having figured out what indexing is, we will consider and answer frequently asked questions.

Q: How do I check if my site is indexed by Google?
A: To do this, search using the site: operator and the URL of your home page. If you see results, then the site is in the index. An example request is site:sitename.com. Learn more about other operators in the search.

Q: I recently created a website, why hasn't it been indexed yet?
A: Generally, Google doesn't index new sites right away. Please wait or request crawling and indexing. It is also worth noting that Google crawls billions of sites and may miss some. Most often this happens for the following reasons: 
  • Other sites rarely link to your pages.
  • If the site is new, Google may not have time to crawl it.
  • The structure of the site makes it difficult to crawl.
  •  An error occurred while trying to scan.
Check the checklist to make sure you meet the minimum requirements for your site to appear on Google.

Q: Some of my pages have changed text. Why isn't it updating in search results?
A: It may take some time to scan and index your site pages. Here's how you can speed up this process:
Q: How can I improve the indexing of my site?
A: There are many ways to make it easier for Google to analyze your content:
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