8

We have the following properties in Google Webmaster Tools:

  • www.example.com (was preferred)
  • example.com
  • https://www.example.com
  • https://example.com

The old sitemap, ie. the HTTP sitemap.xml which still exists on the website, is submitted through the www.example.com property.

A new HTTPS sitemap has been created, which also needs to be submitted. The question is which property do I submit this new HTTPS sitemap to.

Also, please note:

  1. We have already done our 301 redirects from HTTP to HTTPS.
  2. We have already made all canonical URLs HTTPS
  3. Made sure all embeds on webpages are HTTPS.
  4. The new HTTPS sitemap is currently available to google by including in our robots.txt file.
  5. We are working under the assumption that for the next month, we need to submit both the HTTP and HTTPS sitemaps to google, to minimise loss in search rankings. And only after the new HTTPS sitemap has been indexed properly are we to remove the old HTTP sitemap.
  6. We have currently submitted the HTTPS sitemap using the same www.example.com property, which is also where the HTTP sitemap is submitted from.

I have a feeling this is wrong, and I'm not sure how to proceed.

Nowhere in the google documentation (to my knowledge) do they mention which property to submit the new sitemap to.

3

You should submit the HTTPS sitemap to the HTTPS property. If your URLs are of the form https://www.example.com/path/to/file then that would be the https://www.example.com property.

The fact that you have both properties verified in GSC (formerly GWT) you might get away with it. (The sitemap protocol does not permit both HTTP and HTTPS URLs in the same sitemap, however, Google does allow this providing both properties are verified in GSC.)

we need to submit both the HTTP and HTTPS sitemaps to google

I don't see why you are (re)submitting the HTTP sitemap? You are migrating from HTTP to HTTPS and have already setup external redirects from one to the other. You don't have any HTTP URLs. The URLs you include in a sitemap should not redirect, only the target of the redirection should be included.

A sitemap is only an advisory list of URLs/pages that you are suggesting to Google to have a look at. There is no guarantee that Google will index these URLs. If Google determines that the URLs are invalid then they will simply be ignored.

  • We have submitted the old HTTP sitemap to google for it to understand our 301 redirects. This way from what I understand, the crawler, over a span of a few weeks will understand where the redirects exist. After a few weeks we'll remove the old http sitemap from the website completely. – CP3O Feb 16 '16 at 12:36
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    Please correct me if I am wrong: But if we remove the old HTTP sitemap now, and only provide the HTTPS sitemap, won't our search traffic tank? As Google may treat the HTTPS URLs as new URLs and lose access to the HTTP URLs. The point is to allow Google to see that these 301 redirects exist, and point them not only to the new HTTPS URLs, but point them to the HTTP URLs which redirect to HTTPS. – CP3O Feb 16 '16 at 12:38
  • You should not submit a sitemap of redirects. Sitemaps are for the current correct URLs. Googlebot will continue to crawl any old URLs that it knows about for a long time (far longer than you want it to.) Sitemaps have very little effect on rankings. Removing your sitemap will never hurt your rankings. At best Sitemaps are for URL discovery. See The Sitemap Paradox. – Stephen Ostermiller Feb 16 '16 at 15:42
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    Leaving existing HTTP sitemaps in place, where the URLs are already indexed (or not) is reasonable, as you can then determine how many URLs from the sitemap are indexed (from the GSC report). But this shouldn't involve submitting anything new. But the statement, "so search engines can crawl and 'process' your 301 redirects", seems dubious to me. Google processes the redirects from the URLs that are already indexed, which Google will continue to crawl - as Stephen suggests. – MrWhite Feb 16 '16 at 16:30
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    That guide from moz sounds plain wrong to me. I've never seen that suggestion from Google. – Stephen Ostermiller Feb 16 '16 at 16:40

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