Technical SEO Basics: Sitemap Errors


*A witty intro. Something that could pass as a joke in low light if you squinted a bit. A mention of why you should be interested in this particular topic.* …Let’s just get on with it, shall we?

This time we’re looking at sitemap errors. What are they, and how can you identify and fix them? Read on to find out more.

What is a sitemap error?

Your sitemap is your website’s guide for search engine crawlers. Think of it like the contents section of a book – if a reader picks up your book, reads the contents, tries to find that section of the book and can’t, they’re going to be confused and disappointed. This works in the same way for search engine crawlers accessing your sitemap, only without human emotions (presumably…).

An error in your sitemap is most commonly caused by one of the following:

  • a link that redirects to a different webpage
  • a link that returns a non-200 status code (200 = everything is fine!)

Having errors present in your sitemap can cause unnecessary crawling, confuse search results or even result in your sitemap being completely rejected.

How to identify sitemap errors

As per the rules for this series of articles, let’s assume you only have access to free resources. Google Search Console is probably your best bet for discovering sitemap errors. Look under the “indexing” section and you’ll see an option for “Sitemaps”. Click this and you’ll see all your submitted sitemaps plus a status message for each one. Anything other than “success” may need to be reviewed.

How do you fix sitemap errors?

Fixing sitemap errors is relatively simple (especially if you’re familiar with 404 errors and redirects). All you need to do is alter the sitemap so that it only includes pages that result in a 200 status code.

In a WordPress site, fixing issues in a sitemap is often as easy as making sure that pages you no longer wish to use are moved to the bin so that they’re not picked up and automatically added to the sitemap.

It’s unusual to find a site that requires manual sitemap editing these days, most are automatically generated, so the best way to fix issues is to make sure your pages are properly managed and organised so that issues don’t crop up at all.

Need some help?

Identifying and fixing sitemap errors is pretty simple when you get the hang of it, but it can be incredibly time-consuming to explore manually. If you’re not overly confident with finding and fixing technical issues on your site or are worried about doing more harm than good, why not let our SEO team do the heavy lifting for you?

We routinely perform technical SEO audits for clients, and can work with your devs to make changes, or even make changes ourselves, so you can focus on what you do best. To speak to a member of our team about SEO support, get in touch with us today.



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