The Google Search Console is a fantastic tool for webmasters, especially when it comes to monitoring and improving Google search rankings. However, at times, this tool may act strange and report errors even when you’re not sure how they happened. So, what does “Indexed, not submitted in sitemap” mean, and what’s the solution?
When the “Indexed, not submitted in sitemap” status pops up, it means that your XML sitemap doesn’t include the URLs that Google has indexed. To fix this, you’ll need to either import your XML sitemap, submit it to the Google Search Console, or add any missing pages to the sitemap.
In this guide, I’ll explain what it means when you see the “Indexed, not submitted in sitemap” status and how to resolve it. I’ve put together a list of steps to help you identify the problem and find a solution. Keep in mind that this is not a major issue, but it could be an indicator that something is not set up correctly.
What Does ‘Indexed, Not Submitted In Sitemap’ Mean?
It’s not uncommon for you to encounter an error even when you’ve made changes or published new posts correctly. The “Indexed, not submitted in sitemap” error is a common one that many people don’t know how to solve, even if they’ve followed the process correctly. But don’t worry, this error is common and has a simple solution.
When you see the “Indexed, not submitted in sitemap” message, it means that Google has never seen that particular URL in your sitemap. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the URL wasn’t updated in your sitemap at the time you checked it.
For example, if you use Blogger by Google as your hosting provider, you can rest assured that your URL will be added to your sitemap once you publish a new post. This is because Blogger has the option to automatically generate the sitemap, so you don’t have to do anything manually.
However, if you use a self-hosted platform like WordPress, you’ll need to either create a sitemap for your website manually or use automatic SEO plugins like Yoast SEO or Rank Math. If you go with the manual option, you’ll need to update your sitemap each time you publish a new post. If you choose the plugin option, the SEO plugin will update your sitemap for you automatically.
While these methods will properly add the URL to your sitemap, you may still receive an error message from Google indicating there’s an issue on your site. This happens because once your sitemap is updated, Google may not crawl it immediately. When Google finds a new URL related to your site, it also tries to find an older version of your sitemap stored in its memory. If Google can’t find the older version, that’s when the error appears. The frequency of Google’s crawling of your site depends on the crawling frequency that Google has designated for your site. If the frequency is high enough, your sitemap will be crawled by Google more quickly.
Now that you know how the issue arises, it’s important to understand that you can fix this problem yourself without any special skills. Below, I’ve listed the steps you should take to resolve it. These guidelines should work in most cases, but if you’re using an SEO plugin to update your sitemap automatically, you may need to try different options as every plugin is built differently and may require different actions to resolve an issue.
How To Resolve ‘Indexed, Not Submitted In Sitemap’?
Once you publish a post or a page, you need to make sure that it successfully inserted in the sitemap in the first place. Therefore, you need to head over to your sitemap and find the URL of the article that you have just published.
If you do not know the URL of your sitemap, you can either ask the developer of your website, or you can search for it on your SEO plugin’s site. Once you get your URL ready, you may proceed to fix your issue.
Firstly, you will need to go to your sitemap. There, you need to make one quick confirmation that the URL is present in the sitemap. You can do that simply by performing a basic search with CTRL+F.
Once you confirm this, you will need to refresh the sitemap in Google’s memory. You can do that by going to ‘Google Search Console’ and then choosing ‘Sitemaps’. When you get to this section, you will see that your sitemap is already there, but the date of the “last read” is old.
So, you will need to submit the same sitemap again. After you do this, the date in the “last read” section will change, i.e. you will get the current date. This means that the latest version of your sitemap has been updated in Google’s memory.
However, it is recommended that after you update your sitemap, you should wait 10 minutes before you go to the next step. This is due to the fact that Google Search Console is often being developed, therefore it may delay the process. To avoid any additional issues, it is better to be patient.
Once you have waited, you may proceed to the next step, which is using the URL inspection tool again to see what results you are going to get. If you do not get the status ‘Indexed, not submitted in sitemap’, that means you have done everything correctly and your issue has been solved.
The Importance of Having a Sitemap For Your Website
A sitemap is a crucial tool for website owners as it helps search engines better understand the structure and content of a website. It provides a roadmap for search engines to crawl and index the website’s pages, making it easier for users to find relevant information. By creating a sitemap, website owners can ensure that all of their pages are indexed, including those that may not be easily discoverable by search engines.
Additionally, sitemaps can provide valuable information to search engines, such as the frequency with which pages are updated and the importance of different pages within the website. This information can help search engines prioritize which pages to crawl and index, leading to more relevant and accurate search results for users. Having a sitemap can also help website owners identify any broken links or 404 error pages, which can negatively impact search engine rankings and user experience.
In conclusion, having a sitemap is essential for website owners who want to improve the visibility and accessibility of their websites. It helps search engines better understand the structure and content of a website, provides valuable information to search engines and can identify any potential technical issues that may negatively impact search engine rankings and user experience.
How To Resolve ‘Indexed, Not Submitted In Sitemap’ When Using Automatic SEO Plugins?
As previously stated, if you host your website using Google’s Blogger, the URL for your pages or posts will be automatically added to the sitemap when you publish them. For other self-hosted platforms, you might want to use automatic SEO plugins like Yoast, Wix, Shopify, Rank Math, or Squarespace. However, resolving “Indexed, not submitted in sitemap” issues might require different steps, depending on the plugin you use.
Sometimes, Google may have trouble finding URLs even though they are in the sitemap, in which case you can try the following steps:
- Clear the cache from your theme, server, browser plugin, or CDN such as CloudFlare. If you’re not sure how to clear the cache from a theme or plugin, you may need to contact its developers. To clear the cache from your server, you’ll need to reach out to your hosting provider.
- Delete your sitemap from Google. Don’t worry, this won’t harm your website’s SEO. You can find more information on how to do this by reading Google’s guidelines.
- Re-submit the sitemap, making sure to only submit the sitemap_index.xml file. Adding anything else could cause the resolving process to fail again.
- Finally, monitor the results to see if the issue has been successfully resolved.
After completing these steps, you shouldn’t see the “Indexed, not submitted in sitemap” message again. However, if you run into any trouble, you may need to reach out to the support team or developer of the particular plugin you’re using.
The “Indexed, not submitted in sitemap” error is a common one, but it’s easily fixable. Google just gets confused and can’t detect the URLs properly. By following these simple steps, you’ll be able to resolve the issue in no time.