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What is a sitemap, and how does it help website visibility?
Where to find your Squarespace Sitemap
Good news: unlike many other website builders, there’s no need for a Squarespace sitemap generator because Squarespace generates an XML sitemap automatically. This means you don’t need to create a Squarespace sitemap — every time you update your website the changes are added to your sitemap automatically.
To view your Squarespace sitemap, simply add /sitemap.xml to the end of the URL for your primary domain.
For example, if you’re using the built-in Squarespace domain, your sitemap URL would look like this:
And if you’re using your own custom domain, your sitemap URL would look like this:
Here’s a screenshot of a sitemap generated by Squarespace:
The next step is to create an account with Google Search Console for your website, and add your sitemap URL so Google knows where to find it.
How to Submit your Squarespace Sitemap to Google Search Console
Before you can submit your Squarespace sitemap to Google, you’ll need to create an account with a tool called Google Search Console. We have a detailed guide and video to walk you through this process here.
Once you have created a Google Search Console account and added your website as a property, follow these steps to add your sitemap:
- Log in to Google Search Console at: https://search.google.com/search-console
- Make sure your website property is selected in the Property dropdown menu in the top-left corner
- In the “Index” section of the left dashboard menu, click on “Sitemaps”
- In the “Add a new sitemap” section, add sitemap.xml in the field following the URL for your website (see the screenshot below)
- Click “Submit”
Here’s a screenshot showing where to add your sitemap URL:
After you have added your sitemap URL, Google will display the URL in the list of “Submitted Sitemaps”, along with information about the last date the sitemap was crawled and the status of the URLs that were indexed.
Google will not crawl your sitemap immediately, but it will check your sitemap URL at regular intervals as the crawlers reindex the content on your website.
Use Google Search Console to Fix 404 Errors and Broken Links
Once your sitemap is being used by Google to index your website you can start using Google Search Console to check for broken links on your website and fix 404 errors. Note that you may need to wait several days for Google Search Console to start indexing your site if you have only just created the website property in your Search Console account.
To check for broken links and other errors detected on your website in Google Search Console, click on the “Coverage” report in the “Index” section of the dashboard.
Pages with errors are identified in the first tab of this report, and are divided by various different types of error. There are several different types of errors Google Search Console will identify, but here we’ll focus on one of the most common: broken links that result in “404” or “Page not found” error messages.
These are the two most common scenarios that result in a 404 page not found error:
- Changed URL slug: if you open the settings of an already-published page (or blog or product) in Squarespace and change the URL slug, any links to the previous URL slug will break.
- Deleted, hidden, or unpublished pages: if you delete, hide or unpublish a page (or blog post or product) in Squarespace, any previously existing links to that page will break.
If your website has many 404 errors search engines may penalize the website, resulting in decreased search rankings. This is based on the assumption that the website isn’t being maintained, and therefore has lower quality content to offer search engine users.
For this reason, it is important to use Google Search Console to identify 404 errors and fix them.
To fix a 404 error, you need to create a 301 URL Redirect from the previous, broken URL to a functional page. In some instances, like a deleted page, you may just want to redirect users to your homepage. In other instances, like a page where the URL slug has changed, you should use a 301 URL redirect to send users to the updated URL.
In Squarespace, redirect rules are managed in the Settings > Advanced > URL Mappings dashboard.
For example, to redirect users from a deleted page to the homepage, add the following URL redirect rule to the URL mappings dashboard:
/deleted-page-url-slug -> / 301
To create a redirect rule for a page with a changed URL slug, add the following URL redirect rule to the URL mappings dashboard:
/old-url-slug - > /new-url-slug 301
Learn more about creating URL redirect rules on Squarespace from this support article.
How to Exclude a Page from Google Search
Your sitemap should only include pages that you want search engines to include in search results. If you have a page that is not important or would not be appropriate to include in search results, you can tell Squarespace to exclude this page from your sitemap.
For example, a “thank you” page that visitors are redirected to after completing a form probably shouldn’t be included in search results. A “thank you” page is transactional, and is only relevant to website users who have completed a specific action.
To exclude a Squarespace page from the sitemap, open the Page Settings menu, and under the “SEO” tab, activate the slider marked “Hide Page from Search Results.” Turning this setting on will add a “noindex” tag to the page headers and exclude it from your sitemap.
Troubleshooting Squarespace Sitemaps
If you’re having trouble accessing your Squarespace sitemap, here are a couple of helpful troubleshooting tips.
- Trial mode: Squarespace will not generate the automatic sitemap when your website is still in trial mode. You’ll need to sign up for a Squarespace plan before the sitemap is generated.
- Private or password-protected sites: your sitemap will not load if your website is set to “private” or “password-protected” — it needs to be set to “Public.” To check these settings, go to Settings > Site Availability.
Conclusion: Take a few minutes to add your sitemap to Search Console and reap the benefits
Hopefully this guide demonstrates how easy it is to add your automatically-generated Squarespace sitemap to Google Search Console, and monitor your website for errors.
Following these steps will help ensure Google indexes all of the important content on your website, and is kept apprised of new content you publish as part of your website.
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