Create a List of URLs

In order for our systems to find your content, we need their URLs. As stated in Introduction to Indexing, our systems can crawl your website content through the natural course determined by our algorithms, without any additional work on your part. This may be adequate for your goals.

However, when you have content not readily linked by other pages, such as new pages or obscure information, you can help our system learn about your URLs by providing them in a list, known as a sitemap. In many cases, this is all you need to make it easier for our systems to find your latest markup and serve Rich Card previews for your content in Search results.

Types of URLs you provide

URLs that you provide to Google fall into two general classifications:

  • Canonical URLs—the primary URLs for your content.

    In most cases, the canonical URL is the is the preferred URL used to access a specific piece of content on a website. For example, if content is available under separate URLs for HTML and AMP HTML, and you prefer HTML version, then you set the URL of the HTML version as the canonical URL. Conversely, if the site is created entirely in AMP HTML with no corresponding HTML content, then the AMP URL should be the canonical URL since there is no other URL. Learn more about Canonical URLs in our Help Center.

  • Alternate URLs—the URLs for alternative content to the primary content resource.

    Typically, you will specify alternate URLs when you have multiple URL forms for the same content, such as AMP pages or content translated from the original. When these URLs are linked, our systems can more easily consolidate ranking for similar content and serve the right resource to the user, such as an AMP page to a mobile user.

For more information, learn how to Associate Your Online Resources.

Create a simple sitemap

The most basic sitemap is a text file list of your canonical URLs. You can generate the list and host it on your site. You have one URL per line; for example:

http://www.example.com/dogs/poodles/poodle1.html
http://www.example.com/dogs/poodles/poodle2.html

Sitemap generators simplify the file creation for your site, and are available for many content management systems, such as WordPress and Drupal. Sitemap generators typically generate XML files, which we also support.

A text-based sitemap only helps with content discovery. It does not help our systems know when your content has been updated because it doesn’t contain additional meta-data such as the change date, or a list of alternate URLs. Indicate any alternate content by linking to it from within the canonical page, and make sure that the alternate pages link back to the canonical URL, as described in Associate Your Online Resources.

Learn about sitemaps in the Search Console Help Center.

Create an XML sitemap

If you want to provide information updates about your URLs and establish relationships between them and alternate URLs, it might make sense to use an XML sitemap, which can list both canonical and alternate URLs in one file and provide modification dates.

The following example shows a simple XML sitemap with a single page entry that uses both canonical and AMP URLs, and establishes a modification date.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9">
  <url>
    <loc>http://example.com/dogs/poodles/poodle1.html</loc>
    <xhtml:link rel="amphtml" href="http://example.com/dogs/poodles/poodle1.amp.html"/>
    <lastmod>2016-01-13T18:30:02Z</lastmod>
  </url>
</urlset>

The timestamp for your date should be in W3C Datetime format. This format allows you to omit the time portion, if desired, and use YYYY-MM-DD.

Sitemap Guidelines

We recommend that you use either plain text or XML as formats for your sitemap. In addition, a sitemap file can't contain more than 50,000 URLs and must be no larger than 50 MB uncompressed, so you should split large numbers of URLs into multiple files.

See the complete list of sitemap guidelines under Build and Submit a Sitemap in the Search Console Help Center.

Next: Submit URLs to Google

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