The Google Search Console has proven to be a great tool for webmasters, especially when it comes to monitoring and enhancing Google search rankings. But, sometimes this tool can behave weirdly and report errors when you are not even aware of how they occurred in the first place. So, what does it mean ‘Indexed, not submitted in sitemap’, and what is the solution here?
When ‘Indexed, not submitted in sitemap’ status occurs, that means that your XML sitemap does not include Google’s indexed URLs. To solve this you have to import your XML sitemap, submit the sitemap to Google Search Console, or you need to add some missing pages to your XML sitemap.
In this guide, I will discuss what does it mean when ‘Indexed, not submitted in sitemap’ status appears and how to solve it. I have prepared a list of steps you can take, so you can detect the issue and find a solution to it. You should know that this is not considered a serious problem, however, it can be a pointer that something is not done properly.
What Does ‘Indexed, Not Submitted In Sitemap’ Mean?
Many times, when you make changes or you publish new posts, you might get an error even if you have done everything correctly. ‘Indexed, not submitted in sitemap’ is a common error that appears, and many people do not know what to do because they have followed everything properly in the process. However, this error happens often, but luckily it has a simple solution.
When you get the message ‘Indexed, not submitted in sitemap’, that means that Google has never seen that particular URL in your sitemap before. However, that might not mean that the URL has not been updated in your sitemap at the moment of checking.
For instance, if you use Blogger by Google as your hosting provider, then you can rest assure that your URL is inserted in your sitemap once you publish a new post. This is because Blogger has the option to automatically generate the sitemap. Therefore, you are not required to do anything manually.
However, if you use self-hosted platforms, such as WordPress, then you will need to do one of two things. You can either create a sitemap for your website manually, or you can use automatic SEO plugins like Yoast SEO or Rank Math.
If you choose the former option, you will need to update your sitemap each time you publish a new post. If you go with the latter option, then the SEO plugins you choose will update your sitemap automatically.
So, these options give you the proper methods to insert the URL in your sitemap, and each of these methods is proven to work remarkably. However, you might still get the message from Google that there is an error somewhere on your site.
You probably ask yourself why this keeps happening, even when the URL is properly set in your sitemap. So, this is due to the fact that once your sitemap is updated, Google does not crawl it. When Google finds a new URL that is related to your website, it also tries to find an older version of your sitemap that is stored in its memory.
However, when Google cannot find the older version, that is when the issue appears, i.e. the error. So, it is important to acknowledge that this fully depends on the crawling frequency that Google has appointed for your website. If the crawling frequency is high enough, then your sitemap will be crawled by Google way more quickly.
So, now that I have established how the issue appears, it is essential to understand that you can fix this problem by yourself, and you do not need any special skills. Below, I have listed the steps that you should do to come to a solution.
The guidelines that I have provided work in most of the cases, but if you choose SEO plugins that update your sitemap automatically, you might need to try different options. The reason behind this is that every plugin is built in a different way. Therefore, sometimes different actions are needed to resolve a certain 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.
How To Resolve ‘Indexed, Not Submitted In Sitemap’ When Using Automatic SEO Plugins?
As I previously mentioned, if you use Google’s Blogger as your hosting provider, you should expect that the URL will be automatically inserted into the sitemap once you publish a page or post. If you use other self-hosted platforms, then you may opt for automatic SEO plugins.
These automatic SEO plugins include Yoast, Wix, Shopify, Rank Math, Squarespace, etc. In these cases, you might need to resolve the ‘Indexed, not submitted in sitemap’ issues in another way. This is because some plugins require different actions for a proper solution with the sitemap.
Sometimes, Google gets confused, and it cannot find the URLs even though they are included in the sitemap as expected. To resolve this you may try the following steps:
- You should clear all your caching from the theme, server, plugin browser, or CND such as CloudFlare. If you do not know how to clear cache from a theme/plugin, you might need to get in touch with its developers. If you need to clear your cache from the server, then you will need to speak to your hosting provider.
- You should delete your sitemap in Google. When you do this, you should not worry about the SEO of the website because it will stay unharmed. If you need more information on how to do this, you should read the guidelines given by Google.
- You will need to submit the sitemap again, and you should make sure that you submit only sitemap_index.xml. If you add anything else, that might mess with the resolving process once again.
- Finally, you will have to monitor the results, to see if you have resolved the issue successfully.
Once you complete all of these steps, you should expect to not get the message ‘Indexed, not submitted in sitemap’ again. However, due to different structures of plugins, sometimes you might need to get in touch with the support team or the developer of a particular plugin.
The steps that I have provided work successfully most of the time, but at some point you might get stuck and see that nothing will give you the wanted results. On those occasions, make sure to speak to the creators of those particular plugins.
The ‘Indexed, not submitted in sitemap’ status is an error that happens commonly, but it has an easy fix. This is because Google gets confused and cannot detect the URLs properly. However, you can follow a few easy and quick steps, and you will get the issue solved at a light speed.