Google requests to include your canonical URLs in sitemap

On LinkedIn this morning, Google’s Gary Illyes stated that you should “include the URLs that you would like to see as canonical in your sitemaps.” This is not necessarily fresh advice; Google has stated it multiple times; yet, Gary had a cause to reiterate it for whatever reason.

Gary went on to say, “It’s common for your site to have some duplicate content, but you want to provide search engines as many signals as possible about which version should considered canonical (I.e. shown in search results). One of these indications is sitemaps. It’s not as powerful as rel-canonical, and it’s nowhere like as fast as redirects, but it can still be beneficial.”

So, the strongest signal is the redirect, followed by rel-canonical and finally the sitemap file? There are undoubtedly signals in the mix, such as internal and external links.

I mean, it makes sense to include your canonical URL in your sitemap. That appears to be logical. But I’m guessing Gary sees a lot of people not doing this?

In 2016, John Mueller stated that we advocate submitting a sitemap only for the URLs that you want indexed, not for all versions, while in 2018, he stated that URLs in sitemap files are utilised to establish the canonical URL.

So, try not to provide non-canonical URLs in your sitemap file.

Here is the original post at the LinkedIn forum:

Include the URLs that you would want to see as canonical in your sitemaps.

It’s normal to have some duplicate content on your site, but you want to give search engines as many hints as you can about which version should be canonical (I.e. shown in search results). Sitemaps is one of those hints. Not as strong as rel-canonical and definitely not even near redirects, but it can be useful still.

Mr. SEO is the webmaster at SEO TT - SEO tips and tricks, a publication about all things SEO related.