A sitemap is a file that contains a list of pages on a website, to allowing web crawlers like Googlebot to crawl a website. Many web crawlers are able to explore and discover all files on a website, but with the help of a sitemap a crawler can gather metadata about the site. This metadata will tell how often information on the page changes, indicating how often the web page should be crawled. It will also show the details about content that would be hard for a search engine to analyze—like file descriptions for images or videos. Google's Search Console allows you to view, add, and test out sitemaps.
The landing page for Sitemaps Reports will show you a list of sitemaps that you have submitted to the program. Only the sitemaps that have been submitted using this tool will be listed on the Search Console. This report does not list sitemaps that have been exposed with other means, like google.com/ping or robots.txt. There will be a table containing the sitemaps, and if you click on a sitemap, you will be able to view more information about it, including any errors. If the file is an index of sitemaps, you will be shown the list of sitemaps contained within that index.
There are several reasons that a sitemap might not show up in a report. It is suggested that you double check these things:
Below is a complete list of errors and warnings that can occur when using sitemaps that may be seen in the Sitemaps report:
In general, this will indicate that Google was not able to process the sitemap completely because one or more of the URLs cover too many redirects—this makes it difficult for Google's crawlers to follow. It is suggested to replace the URLs that redirect, with the URL that the redirect would point to (this would be the destination URL).
This list will tell you some of the other reasons that a redirect may impact the ability of a link to be followed:
This error is seen when Google has encountered an error when it has attempted to view a URL within a sitemap. You will need to:
A sitemap may include number of URLs that sit at a higher level or differing domain than what is listed on the sitemap file.
Different domain—Check that all of the URLs start with the same domain that the sitemap location does. For example, if the sitemap is at http://www.sample.com/sitemap.xml, variations of the site that are missing www, http, or https (rather than http) will not be valid for the desired sitemap.
Higher level—if your sitemap is listed at something like http://www.sample.com/mysite/sitemap.xml, variations of the website at a higher level will not be valid for the sitemap. This would include:
This is what happens when your sitemap does not actually contain any URLs. Check that your sitemap is not empty. If the sitemap utilizes the sitemap protocol, make sure that the URLs are tagged correctly.
Google will encounter an error when it is trying to unzip a compressed sitemap file. It is suggested to compress the sitemap again with a tool like gzip, upload it to the website, and then submit it again.
This error occurs when the sitemap goes above the maximum file size limit. An uncompressed sitemap that is larger than 10MB will give this error message. When a sitemap is this large, it should be broken up into numerous smaller sitemaps, and then these sitemaps should be listed within a sitemap index file.
This error message indicates that the sitemap has one or more dates that are invalid. The date could be invalid because the date is in the wrong format, or the date itself is invalid. Dates within a sitemap must adhere to the W3C Datetime encoding standards, though it is possible to totally omit the time portion. You must ensure that the date and time (if included) match either of these formats:
The time is optional, but if you decide to include it, you must specify a timezone, which defaults to 00:00:00Z.
An error message like this will appear when you have assigned a value that is invalid to an XML tag attribute. You should double check that your sitemap to ensure that there are only the allowed attributes that are present. You should also make sure that you have assigned only the allowed values, according to the specifications of the sitemap. Your attributes and values should be checked for typos.
When your sitemap holds one or more tags that have an invalid value, you may see this error message. The error message is expected to display the tag within the error message text. Check your specifications for the sitemap type—standard, index, video, etc.
This error code is a bit obvious, but it will come about when a URL within your sitemap is not valid. It could be because the URL is made of unsupported characters, spaces, quotes, or the like—or it could be formatted incorrectly. Ensure that the URLs included within the sitemap have been encoded for readability and escaped properly. You should check for any wrong characters like spaces or quotes, and you can also try to copy the URL in a browser—this will check that the browser either can or can't read the URL and have the page load correctly.
This will occur when a sitemap index file does not include a complete URL for each individual sitemap that it lists. When a sitemap file index is visible, the directory is where the files that it contains should be. For example, if the sitemap file index is located at http://www.sample.com/folder/sitemap_index.xml and indicates that a sitemap is sitemap.xml, the sitemap will be looked for at http://www.sample.com/folder/sitemap.xml. If the sitemap can't be found there, this error will be shown. You should update the sitemap file index file to reflect the complete path to each of the listed sitemap files, and then resubmit the file index.
When there is a tag within the sitemap that is missing a required attribute, you will get this error message. Check that your sitemap is correct, and that there are no required attributes that are missing. Once the missing attributes have been fixed, you can then resubmit the sitemap.
When there is one or more entry within the sitemap that are missing a required tag, you will see this error. Within the error message, you will see the line numbers listed.
There will be an error code if your sitemap contains duplicate tags. This includes tags of any kind that have been duplicated, like a <loc> tag.
This error occurs when one or more video elements is missing the URL to a thumbnail image. You should ensure that the location of the thumbnail URLs are indicated using the <video:thumbnail_loc> tag.
Look to ensure that each of the videos within the sitemap has its own title, which should be specified with the <video:title> tag.
This error can be caused by an unescaped character within a URL. As is the case with all XML files, all data values have to use entity escape codes for characters like & < > ' “. All characters within the URL must be properly escaped. These escape codes would be something like & or " within the URL.
One or more entries within the sitemap file uses its own URL or another sitemap index file URL. This error is because a sitemap index file is not able to list other sitemap index files—only the sitemap files. You should get rid of any entries that point to a sitemap index file, then submit the sitemap again.
It is possible that a system experiences a temporary problem that keeps it from processing the sitemap. In general, when this error is received, you will not to resubmit the sitemap. Google can try to receive it again at a later time. If the error is still occurring after a few hours, then you should try to resubmit the sitemap.
The sitemap index file should not contain any more than 50,000 sitemaps. If it does, you should break it down into multiple sitemap indexes.
The sitemap should not list more than 50,000 URLs in a single file. If there are more, break it up into multiple sitemaps and use a sitemap index file.
A sitemap should contain the correct header, and all XML attributes should be enclosed in single quotes or double quotes.
Your sitemap should match the URLs that is lists in whether or not they contain www. It doesn't matter if they contain it or not, as long as it matches.
The root element of the sitemap should contain the right namespace, spelled correctly. This goes for sitemaps, sitemap index files, and video sitemaps.
Video thumbnail images should be no larger than 160x120px. Resize the thumbnail and update this to reflect in the sitemap, and then resubmit it.