Do Not Make This Mistake When Submitting a Sitemap

Updated on August 10, 2019
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Levi is an enthusiast when it comes to analytics and wants to share the latest tips and tricks for making your website stand out.

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What is a sitemap?

A sitemap is a page that is dynamically generated to show the relationship between the pages of your website. It helps Google search and index your website more easily. Usually, its a distinguishable file that ends in an extension of XML. Without getting too technical, XML is just a markup language to carry data and focus on what the data is, not really how it looks.

Why Is A Sitemap Important?

Think about it, if Google doesn't have a way to index and crawl your website, how can it show up on Google? When Google crawls and indexes your website, it's not really worried about how it looks aesthetically, it wants to know what the data is and how it is laid out. Also, you used to have to manually submit your website to Google, but if you are using WordPress, all you have to do is enable the sitemap option. However, you must remember to submit the correct sitemap to Google Search Console which is what we will talk about in the next section.

The Mistake To Avoid

So, you are logged into Google Search Console and go to where it says sitemap and upload the sitemap as http://yourwebsitename.com/sitemap.xml (this is just an example of a website sitemap structure) right? Not always. The picture below shows what it looked like in Google Search Console after I submitted it but logged off because it still said pending.

Wrong sitemap file upload
Wrong sitemap file upload

If I look at my analytics for that day, all of my metrics were fairly low and I was wondering what happened. So then I went into my SEO software to see if there were any errors. I found this error:

It said I didn't have a sitemap at all! So I went to my website and into the Yoast SEO settings and checked what my sitemap link was. Sure enough, it didn't say sitemap.xml but sitemap_index.xml! I had assumed it would always just be sitemap.xml because I have had websites before that never had this problem. When I submitted the correct sitemap as show below, you can see the found URLs jumped from a meager 4 to 44. That's a lot more URLs to be discovered by Google!

correct xml file submitted to Google
correct xml file submitted to Google

Finding Your Sitemap

As a result, my traffic increased as well as my keywords started to rank in the search engines. It is always good to check what your sitemap will look like with the SEO plugin you are using if on WordPress. Can't find the sitemap? Follow these steps to get started:

Step 1: Go to Yoast Main Page

Yoast SEO Main page
Yoast SEO Main page

Step 2: Click on Features Tab

Features tab
Features tab

Step 3: Switch XML Sitemap Tab to On

XML Sitemap tab
XML Sitemap tab

Step 5: Click Question Bubble to Find Sitemap Link

Sitemap Question Bubble
Sitemap Question Bubble

When you follow these steps, you will find the correct sitemap xml file to submit to Google. I am glad I caught this mistake fairly early, because I could've missed out on important analytics information to help analyze and optimize my website.

If you found this article helpful, consider sharing it with someone who may find the information useful in their projects. Thanks for reading!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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    © 2019 Levi Perry

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