sitemap-update

Google: Only worry about the Sitemaps if your site meets these criteria

In a new video Google’s Daniel Waisberg said sites don’t actually need sitemaps unless they fall into one of three categories.

This information was provided on YouTube in the most recent episode of Google’s Search Console Training show. The video focuses on the basics of how to use Search Console’s sitemaps report

You’re probably also familiar with the Search Console sitemaps report and may even refer to it on a regular basis for the sites you manage.

Google’s John Mueller makes a cameo in latest Search Console Training video
Google’s John Mueller makes a cameo in latest Search Console Training video

In the video, Google’s John Mueller made a cameo to ask: “If I don’t have a sitemap will Google find all of my pages?”

Let’s start there.

Could Google Find Pages Without a Sitemap?

If the site is usually relatively small and all of its pages are properly linked then Googlebot can discover the content just fine.

“You don’t need to worry about a sitemap,” says Waisberg before adding, “However, if your site meets one of the following criteria, a sitemap might help Google decide what and when to crawl your website.”

Your site may benefit from a sitemap if it meets this criteria
Your site may benefit from a sitemap if it meets this criteria.

A sitemap could be necessarily helpful if:

  • The site is really large
  • The site’s pages are isolated
  • The site is new or changes quickly

N These instances allow a sitemap to help you direct Googlebot to new content and show Googlebot where to find isolated sites. Often, a sitemap can be used to prioritize which content to crawl first, which is useful to large sites.

A sitemap doesn’t guarantee anything, Waisberg says, meaning that not every URL included in a sitemap will be crawled by Google.

Similarly, failing to include URLs in a sitemap does not guarantee that they will not be crawled. Google will find pages if they are in a sitemap, or not.

Using a sitemap is no harm

Although Google is not strongly recommending that all sites have a sitemap, Waisberg states that there is no harm in having one.

So if you’re not sure if your site needs one or not, you can always err on the warning side, and use one anyway.

“In most cases, your site will benefit from having a sitemap,” says Waisberg.

Google recommends automatically created Sitemaps

Google explicitly recommends using automatically generated sitemaps as opposed to manually creating one when creating sitemaps.

Ideally the system that runs your website will automatically make sitemap files for you. There are plugins for WordPress and Drupal extensions to accomplish this too.

Eventually, keep an eye on sitemap file sites. If your site is so big that several sitemap files are needed to contain all of the URLs then that’s perfectly fine.

See the video below for more detail on sitemaps and the analysis of sitemaps in Search Console:

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