January 9, 2024

How Often Should You Submit a Sitemap?

When it comes to sitemaps, there is a lot of information to unpack. The main purpose of a sitemap is to help Google crawl and index your site. If you have a very good site structure and use the best code practices, search engines will most likely be able to discover your links without needing a sitemap. So, when does a sitemap actually come in handy and how often should you submit one? 

At Wildcat Digital, we recommend that you submit your sitemap once in Google Search Console. Once you have submitted the sitemap, Google will keep re-crawling it based on the information they already have. However, if your website is continuously changing, we recommend that you update your sitemap more frequently. Essentially, it depends how static your site is. 

Keep reading to learn more about how often you should submit a sitemap and why submitting a sitemap can be so beneficial for SEO. 

How Often Should You Submit a Sitemap To Google? 

Generally, you only need to submit your sitemap once in Google Search Console (or other search engines’ search control panels). After this, Google will keep re-crawling the sitemap on a schedule that makes sense based on what they already know about your site. If you have a static website that does not change too often, there’s no real reason to update your sitemap for several months. However, if your website includes blog posts, products or promotions that are continuously changing, you should become much more diligent in updating your sitemap. With this information in mind, let’s take a closer look at sitemaps and when they are needed. 

Do I Need a Sitemap? 

More often than not, if your site’s pages are properly linked, Google will be able to discover most of your site without the need for a sitemap. Successful linking is when all of the pages that you deem important can be reached through some form of navigation, be that your site’s menu or links you have placed on pages. A sitemap can come in handy for larger or more complex sites, as it helps bots crawl your pages more easily. 

Are Sitemaps Important For SEO? 

Whilst submitting a sitemap can make a huge difference to large sites with poor linking, it’s important to bear in mind that submitting a sitemap won’t make a difference to some websites. This is because sitemaps are not [actually] required for search engines to effectively crawl your website”. However, sitemaps can be particularly useful in the following scenarios

Your Site is Large 

On large sites, it’s more difficult to make sure that every page is linked by at least one other page on the site. Consequently, it’s more likely Googlebot will not discover some of your pages. If your site has a lot of pages, it will burn your crawl budget more quickly. Whilst the sitemap itself won’t help with the crawl budget, it can help get some deeper pages indexed more quickly. A bigger website might also mean that you make frequent updates. Having your XML sitemap set up properly can ensure the most important pages on your site are crawled and indexed. 

Your Site Has a Bad Internal Linking Strategy

A sitemap is incredibly useful if you don’t regularly link in-between your pages because it increases the visibility of your pages for crawlers. However, missing an internal linking structure is a far greater problem than a missing sitemap as search engines focus on crawling your website naturally first. Even if Google discovers a page through your sitemap, without any links to it, no page rank will flow to it so it will be considered unimportant. 

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. If no other sites link to your site, Googleboot may struggle to discover your pages. A sitemap can help search engines quickly discover new pages on your site, improving the overall SEO performance of your website. Sitemaps can also be used to hide pages from users whilst allowing them to be crawled by search engines. For example, if you have a product landing page you want to show the search engine with a discount as an incentive to click, but you want to keep it hidden from users . 

Your Site Has Lots of Rich Media Content (Video/Images) 

Google can take additional information from sitemaps into account for Search. Video and image sitemaps are generally used to help Google know and understand your site’s media content. If you only have a few videos and images, you can add them to the normal XML sitemap. However, if you have an entire section of videos and images, you can split them into separate sitemaps. 

How To Optimise Your Sitemaps For SEO? 

Once you’ve set up your sitemap, it’s important to make sure that it’s beneficial for SEO. Whilst Google states that a sitemap will never get you in trouble, it actually can, if you implement it the wrong way. For example, you may accidentally highlight duplicate content pages. The best way to check your sitemap for errors is the Google Search Console platform. 

How To Submit a Sitemap To Google? 

You can submit your sitemap directly in Google’s free tool called Google Search Console. Below, we’ll highlight our step by step guide:

The first thing you’ll want to do is log into your Google Search Console account. Then, in the top left corner, select the website for which you want to submit a sitemap.

Navigate to the left sidebar menu, where you’ll find a ‘sitemaps’ report in the ‘indexing’ section. This is where you can manage all of your sitemaps.

Focus on the ‘Add a new sitemap’ section. 

Here are some of the best ways to find your XML sitemap:

Once you have located the URL of your sitemap, you can add your sitemap to the ‘Add a new sitemap’ section of the sitemaps report. Simply paste the URL and click ‘Submit’. 

*You will see a message confirming that your sitemap has been successfully submitted. After some time, you’ll see your sitemap in the list of ‘submitted sitemaps’. It will contain information about when the sitemap was submitted, when it was last read and how many pages Google discovered in it.

How To Add a Sitemap To Your Website 

First things first, check to see if you already have a sitemap. Usually, the sitemap lurks somewhere under /sitemap.xml. The files may also have the .html extension so remember to check them as well. If however, you don’t have a sitemap, you can always create one. The difficulty of this depends entirely on the type of platform your website is built on. 

Custom Made Website

If you have a custom made website, adding a sitemap might require your developers to intervene. The first option is to generate a static XML sitemap and upload it to your server. However, this is not an ideal solution as you may have to constantly generate it every time you add a new page to your website in order for it to be effective. 

The second option is to generate a sitemap with https://www.xml-sitemaps.com/. The tool will crawl your website and structure the information it finds about the URLs in an XML file which you’ll be able to download to your computer and upload to your public_html folder on your server. The biggest problem with this option is that because the tool crawls your site like any other search engine, if your internal linking is bad, the tool won’t find deep pages or add them to the XML file. 

Popular CMS

If your site is on a popular CMS platform such as WordPress, you can solve your issue by installing a sitemap plugin. On WordPress the most popular plugin is Yoast SEO, which generates a search engine optimised sitemap on its own. Similar plugins and modules can be found for other platforms, such as Drupal, Joomla or Magento. Simply search for ‘sitemap plugin + your platform’ and you’ll find out if something is available. 

Final Thoughts 

Whilst there are many important technical SEO issues, you should never take a sitemap for granted. Sitemaps are vitally important to allow search engines to crawl and then index your site. This ensures the content on the webpages gets ranked within the SERPs. This is because sitemaps assist users in navigating and understanding your site whilst communicating your relevance to search engines for a particular search term. It’s well worth investing time and effort in a well-structured sitemap. 

Our team of technical SEO specialists at Wildcat Digital have a wealth of experience using sitemaps. Checking that your site’s sitemap is set up correctly and following best practices is a key step in our technical audits and campaign planning. If you need help with your sitemap or have any questions about the indexing and crawling of your website, get in touch with our friendly team today. 

Sitemap FAQs 

What Is a Sitemap?

According to Google, “A sitemap is a file where you provide information about the pages, videos, and other files on your site, and the relationships between them. Search engines like Google read this file to crawl your site more efficiently.” 

A sitemap can tell Google which pages and files are important in your site and also provides valuable information about these files. For example, a sitemap can tell crawlers when the page was last updated and any alternate language versions of the page.  

To read more, take a look at our insightful article, ‘What Is a Sitemap and How Do Search Engines Use Sitemaps?’ 

What Are The Two Main Types of Sitemaps? 

Essentially, there are two main types of sitemaps used today, XML and HTML sitemaps. Below, we’ll outline the key attributes of each sitemap:

XML Sitemaps – These are XML files (sitemap.xml) located in the website root folder. This sitemap allows you to specify links, frequency and scanning priority. They also help search bots understand the entire logic of your site, this includes:

XML sitemaps boost the navigation capabilities of users on a website while ensuring the site remains user-friendly. Below is an example of how an XML sitemap appears to a user: 

HTML Sitemaps – A HTML sitemap is a web page that contains href tags that link to other pages. HTML sitemaps are structured in such a way that it helps users find whatever it is they are searching for. Because they don’t contain all of the pages on a website it makes it easier for individuals and search engines to find the specific information they are looking for. Below is an example of how a HTML sitemap would look like for a user: 

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Rachel Davies

Will Hitchmough

Founder

Our founder, Will Hitchmough, worked at a number of high profile Sheffield Digital Agencies before founding Wildcat Digital in 2018. He brings an extensive knowledge of all things related to SEO, PPC and Paid Social, as well as an expert knowledge of digital strategy.

Digital Marketing can be a minefield for many businesses, with many agencies ready to take your money without knowing how to deliver results. I founded Wildcat Digital to deliver digital success to businesses with smaller budgets in a transparent way.

Chloe Robinson

Content Strategist Team Lead

With a degree in Marketing and a background in more traditional, offline marketing, Chloe joined Wildcat in 2021 after deciding to move into the digital marketing industry. She joined us as a Content Specialist and quickly moved up the ranks, becoming a Content Strategist and later an SEO Team Leader.

Outside of work, Chloe is an avid creative. If she’s not knitting, you’ll likely find her behind a sewing machine or in the kitchen trying (and often failing!) to make sourdough.

Paul Pennington

SEO Account Director

Paul has a strong background in SEO, having previously founded and ran a successful eCommerce business, as well as running a personal blog that achieves an average of 17K users per month. Paul’s knowledge of SEO is extensive, with a strong emphasis on client handling and technical SEO.

Outside of work, Paul enjoys spending time with his family and staying active with weight lifting and combat sports.

Nadea van der Merwe

Head of Operations

Nadea joined Wildcat in 2021 and has since overhauled the way we work. She has a background in various administrative, operations and HR roles, which gave her the experience and skills needed to lead and organise a growing business. 

Outside of work, Nadea loves anything that keeps her active, but she especially enjoys hiking, camping and mountain biking.

Molly Sturgeon

SEO Account Manager

With a background in sales, Molly is a natural Account Manager, brilliantly handling any issues that come her way. Having joined us as a Digital Marketing Executive, and working part-time through her final year of University, Molly is a shining example of how hard work pays off. She is now an SEO Account Manager with a particular interest in Content and Client Management. 

In her spare time, Molly loves to get out in nature, hiking and exploring the Peak District. She also loves cooking and likes to unwind with a bit of yoga.

Libby Oldale

Senior PPC Account Manager

Libby joined Wildcat in 2021 as our first PPC hire. With a degree in Digital Media Production, a Master’s in Digital Media Management and previous experience in Social Media Management, Libby hit the ground running and has since climbed the ranks to Senior PPC Account Manager and has a particular interest in the eCommerce sector.

Outside of work, Libby likes gaming, and cooking and likes to keep active by lifting weights.

Jasmine Savery

SEO Team Leader

Jasmine joined Wildcat in 2022 with a strong background in SEO and Account Management. At the time, she was finishing up a Level 4 Apprenticeship in Digital Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, and has since worked her way up to SEO Team Leader. Jasmine excels at content writing and promotion, and particularly enjoys finding creative ways to join the dots on multi-channel campaigns.

In her spare time, Jasmine volunteers at a charity, helping combat loneliness & social isolation experienced by older neighbours. Outside of Wildcat, she owns a catering company, Savery Grazing, creating delicious grazing tables & platters for a range of events. She also loves skiing and exploring the Peak District.

Braden Godley

Senior PPC Executive

Prior to joining Wildcat, Braden founded and ran his own Social Media Management agency where he gained valuable skills in growing brands’ online presence, which has since proven invaluable in his role at Wildcat. 

Outside of work, Braden is a big football fan, regularly travelling to Pride Park to support Derby County. He also enjoys watching and playing snooker, hiking in the Peak District, and attending air and car shows.

Jon Herdman

SEO Executive

After spending ten years managing businesses, restaurants, cafes and event spaces across Sheffield, Jon decided to change careers and joined Wildcat as an SEO Executive in 2022. He especially enjoys the client management side of the job, helping them to understand digital marketing and ways in which they can build their business’s presence online. 

Outside of work, Jon likes to keep fit with running, badminton and football, and also loves music. 

Rachel Davies

SEO Executive

Rachel joined us as a graduate, having recently graduated from Sheffield University with a degree in English Literature. Since joining, Rachel has proven herself to be a Content Queen, and particularly enjoys getting stuck into projects that allow her to explore her creative side. 

Outside of work, Rachel enjoys a wide range of hobbies, including rugby, singing, reading, and spending time with her family and three labradors.

Carl Atterbury

PPC Team Leader

Carl joined Wildcat in 2023 with a wealth of experience in PPC. He has experience working with a wide range of clients, industries and budgets, from small local businesses all the way to international e-commerce businesses. Carl has a particular interest in strategic planning and forecasting. He is passionate about data analysis and creating sustainable long-term cross-channel strategies.

In his spare time, Carl enjoys keeping fit by lifting weights, bouldering and running. He’s also a keen musician, having played the double bass and bass guitar for 20 years.

Dariusz Baczyk

Team Lead & Technical SEO Account Manager

With a degree in Computer Science and SEO experience dating back to 2017, Dariusz has a wide range of SEO skills and knowledge. His specialist knowledge of Technical SEO has firmly landed him the title of Wildcat’s Technical Wizard, and he has recently taken on the responsibility of Team Leader for the Panthers Team.

In his spare time, Dariusz loves hiking, experimenting and trying new coffees and loves learning new things. He is currently learning more about CRO and AI and how this could benefit our clients.

Jamie Stowe

SEO Account Manager

With a degree in Film and TV production, and a varied career history, Jamie made the move to marketing with a Masters degree in Digital Media Management. He has since worked in SEO at Agencies across Sheffield, before joining Wildcat and working his way up to SEO Account Manager. Jamie has a particular interest in backlinks and Digital PR and has recently gained a client a valuable backlink from Forbes!

In his spare time, Jamie is an avid foodie and loves trying new restaurants and cuisines. He also loves to travel and spent a year travelling to Australia after university.

Andy Blanchard

SEO Executive

Andy joined Wildcat in 2023 after starting his digital marketing career in-house for a local Sheffield company. Since joining, he has developed a strong interest in Technical SEO and has strong skills in Account Management. 

Outside of work, Andy loves music and plays in a couple of bands. He also enjoys rock climbing, cycling, photography and good food.

Siena Russell

Client Success Coordinator

Siena joined us in 2023 with a background in sales and digital marketing. She leads on client relationships across the company, ensuring that our customers are happy throughout their journey with us, from their initial consultation through to onboarding and beyond. 

Outside of work, Siena enjoys travelling and getting stuck into the local culture. She likes to make the most of her experiences and particularly enjoys watching sunrises and sunsets from beautiful locations around the world.

Thea Chapman

Senior SEO Executive

Thea has a wealth of experience in SEO, having previously worked for other Digital Marketing Agencies in Sheffield. She has a particular interest and skills in Technical SEO, but is more than willing to get stuck in and give anything a go. 

Outside of work, Thea spends most of her time with her children, but also loves reading, photography and gardening. 

Tom Brookes

PPC Executive

Before joining Wildcat, Tom worked across different industries, building skills in sales and customer service. He later developed a passion for digital marketing whilst working on personal marketing projects and freelance ventures, and gained numerous certifications in PPC and Social Media. 

Outside of work, Tom enjoys staying active by going to the gym and hiking. He also loves travelling and motorbiking.

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