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

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