When you post or submit a sitemap in Google Search Console, Google may or may not index certain pages. The Crawled – currently not indexed error appears in GSC when Google crawls your site but doesn’t index pages that are unfit for its end-users, have some issues that the user must address, or have the robots meta noindex tag. Today, we’ll have a look at another message that GSC shows – “Indexed, not submitted in the sitemap”.
What is this message and what does it mean? The sitemap is one thing that every website should have. If the site doesn’t have a sitemap and the site has a poor internal link structure, search engines will never find some pages on the site even if the content on the page is good. Sitemap contains a list of pages that search engines such as Google, Bing, etc will crawl and may index.
WordPress search engine optimization plugins not only let users enable sitemaps for their sites but also provide an option for choosing the pages you want the sitemap to have. If you don’t use this option and there’s a page on your site with index, follow or without the noindex meta robots tag and this page is linked to a page that is in the sitemap, Google will crawl and index this page and the Google Search Console will display the “Indexed, not submitted in sitemap” message in the coverage section of Google Search Console. The same thing applies to non-WordPress sites.
What to do with this page? If the page has good quality content, you can ignore this message but if it lacks quality content, you should either add a no-index tag to it so that search engines can remove this page from their index for the good of your own site. What if you don’t do so? If several poor-quality pages that aren’t in the sitemap are indexed, your site’s quality may decrease. Poor quality sites are most affected during a Google algorithm update.
Is the “Indexed, not submitted in sitemap message important or not? Well, it depends on the pages that are indexed. If a malicious plugin or a script on your site has created 1000s of thin pages without your knowledge and has linked the same with the pages of your site that are listed in the sitemap, these pages will be indexed and will lower your site’s quality and as mentioned earlier, your site’s traffic might be affected when a Google algorithm update takes place.
Closing words: Google Search Console is a handy tool that shows various types of issues on the site. It also shows useful messages that webmasters shouldn’t ignore. Indexed, not submitted in sitemap is one of the several messages GSC may show. The importance of this message depends on the list of pages that appear when you click this message.