Creating a sitemap is one of the many ways you can help Google detect and crawl the contents of your website. A well-arranged and linked sitemap helps crawlers identify the pages of your website and include these in the SERPs. But will submitting a sitemap guarantee indexing and ranking?
This was a recent topic in Google’s Webmaster Help Forum. A website owner asked why his pages weren’t being indexed when he submitted a sitemap with over 40,000 URLs. Only 100 was indexed, and even after checking and resubmitting the sitemap, the pages still were not indexed by Google.
TrueLogic’s XML sitemap. Will submitting a sitemap ensure indexing in Google SERPs?
Sitemaps are Not Guarantees
Illyes begins his explanation by noting that submitting a sitemap isn’t an easy way to ensure indexing. “First and foremost, submitting a Sitemap doesn’t guarantee the pages referenced in it will be indexed. Think of a Sitemap as a way to help Googlebot find your content: if the URLs weren’t included in the Sitemap, the crawlers might have a harder time finding those URLs and thus they might be indexed slower,” Illyes explained.
He also moves on to note that although Googlebots crawl your sitemap, they may decide not to index your pages at all based on content. Pages with low quality, shallow, irrelevant or outdated content may be ignored by these bots and not indexed in the Google SERPs.
Improving Your Sitemap
In order to help Google crawl your pages better and improve your chances of getting these pages indexed, you need to:
- Check your URLs and make sure they are all working. Note any redirects that are not working properly, and fix rel=canonical issues.
- Check if the pages you submitted have the “noindex” attribute. Google will ignore these pages – be careful when applying the “noindex” attribute to your pages.
- Do not include URLs that are in your /robots.txt file.
- Ensure that all submitted URLs return a 200 OK response.
- Focus on the content of your pages. Keep your information updated, make sure you have no duplicate content, and apply the proper tags to help Google determine the quality of your pages.
Most importantly, be patient. It may take time for Google to index all of your pages, especially if you have thousands of pages on your site.