First, you need to visit Google Search Console. This is the website where you submit your sitemap to Google.
When you first open up the Search Console you will see this screen:
Here you need to decide if you are going to set up a Domain or URL prefix. I would recommend that you set up a Domain and here is why.
The Domain option allows you to track any subdomain on a domain. What does this mean? Well here is an example, often when you are starting your website you only have a blog found at the main address such as:
As your website becomes more popular you will have other subdomains like this:
The Domain option allows you to track all these subdomains in Google Search. The URL prefix option only allows you to track one subdomain.
So enter your domain name into the Domain option and press the “Continue” button.
This will then show you the verify DNS screen as shown below:
This screen is quite daunting the first time you see it, don't worry let's break this down.
What this screen is doing is asking you to add a DNS record to your domain. This DNS record will let Google know that you are the owner of this domain. To manage the DNS for your website you need to go back to where you bought your domain name.
Now there are a few domain registrars that are easier to set up than others. This is because Google has pre-integrated with the following domain registrars:
If your domain registrar is on that list then you can select it from the dropdown:
Then press the “start verification” button, follow the on-screen instructions to complete the process. Once you have competed come back and continue the tutorial from verifying DNS.
If like me, your registrar is not on the list, then you will have to select the “Any DNS provider” option from the list.
This screen is asking “Can you create a TXT DNS record on your website with the google-site-verification value?".
To do this login to your domain registrar and look for a manage DNS link for your domain.
I use PorkBun to register my domain names. On their site, you can select the domain and choose to manage the DNS. Which allows you to create a new DNS record. The screen on PorkBun looks like this:
I selected the TXT type from the dropdown. I left the “Host” field empty. I then pasted the value of the google-site-verification that Google provided.
Your domain registrar will have a similar process. Once you have added the record go back to the Google Search Console dashboard.
Back in Google Search Console you now need to click the “Verify” button.
When I clicked “Verify” the first time after adding the DNS record I got this error:
This is because DNS is not instant. It can take up to 24 hours depending on your DNS server. For me, it was about 5 minutes before the DNS refreshed. So grab a coffee come back and press “Verify” again. Once the DNS has updated you will see this:
You can press Verify as many times as you like so don't worry you can't break anything here.
Now click on “Go To Property” and you will see the Google Search Console dashboard.
Well done! You now have everything set up you can finally add the sitemap.
Before we look at submitting the sitemap to Google you need to be able to find the sitemap URL on your site. Let's look at this next.
Finding your Sitemap
It can be quite difficult to find the sitemap of a website. There is not one location which can make it tricky to locate.
A great place to start if you don't know where to find the sitemap is using your robots.txt file.
“Steve, what is a robots.txt file?”
Great question, it is a file used by web crawlers like Google to check the “rules” for reading your site. This file is on your site at /robots.txt.
For example, here is a look at the robots.txt file for PageDart:
Now that we have the URL let's go back to the Google Search Console dashboard.
Adding the Sitemap to Google Search Console
To submit the sitemap, select the “sitemaps” tab from the menu on the Google Search Console.
Once selected you will see a box to enter your sitemap:
Enter the sitemap URL you found from your robots.txt into this box and click “submit”. Google will then verify that it can read and download a copy of the sitemap.
If all is well you will see that Google has read the sitemap:
Once you press “Got It” you will see that the sitemap is now listed in Google Search Console.
Congratulations, you have now submitted the sitemap to Google!
One thing I wanted to mention is that Google will cache a copy of your sitemap on their server. This means that if you update the sitemap Google will not see the change straight away. But, you do not need to come back and resubmit the sitemap.
This is because Google will come back and read the latest sitemap every few days. If Google has trouble reading the sitemap then it will send you an email to inform you there is a problem.
Now that Google has the sitemap, you can see reports of how well your pages are performing in the rankings. Including, the pages which are not in the search index.
How to Submit a Sitemap to Google, Final Thoughts
You have learned how to submit a sitemap to Google.
Using Google Search Console you verified ownership of your domain using DNS verification.