In a new video, Google’s Daniel Waisberg stated that sites don’t necessarily need sitemaps unless they fall into one of three categories.
This information came from the newest episode of Google’s Search Console Training series on YouTube. The video discusses the basics of how to use the sitemaps report in Search Console.
To refresh on the latest features in the sitemaps report, see: Google Updates the Sitemaps Report in Search Console.
Google’s John Mueller made a cameo in the video to raise the question: “If I don’t have a sitemap will Google find all of my pages?”
Let’s start there.
Is it possible for Google to find pages without a sitemap? If the site is fairly small and the pages are linked properly, then Googlebot can discover the content easily enough.
“You don’t need to worry about a sitemap,” Waisberg says, 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.”
A sitemap might be especially helpful if:
- The site is really large
- The site’s pages are isolated
- The site is new or changes quickly
In these cases, a sitemap can help with directing Googlebot toward new content and showing Googlebot where to find isolated pages. Sitemaps can even be utilized to prioritize what content to crawl first, which can be great for larger sites.
But keep in mind that having a sitemap doesn’t always guarantee anything, Waisberg said. Google doesn’t always crawl every URL included in a sitemap.
At the same time, if you don’t include URLs in a sitemap, it doesn’t guarantee that they won’t be crawled? Google is able to find pages whether or not they’re in a sitemap.
Waisberg said that there is no harme in having a sitemap, despite the face Google doesn’t outright say that all sites should have a sitemap.
“In most cases, your site will benefit from having a sitemap,” Waisberg says.
If you decide on including a sitemap on your sitemap, Google recommends using automatically generated sitemaps versus manually created ones. There are WordPress plugins and Drupal extensions out there for accomplishing this.