Fix Common XML Sitemap Errors from Google Search Console

One thing you should do, at least once a week, is to check on the status of your XML sitemaps in Google Search Console. Google will tell you if it’s having a hard time with your sitemaps. If it is, this could affect it’s ability to index your entire site. 

Coincidentally this is one thing my tool will help you keep up with.

Here are a couple common XML sitemap errors I’ve seen in Google Search Console, and what you should do about them. There are other errors that Google might share with you, but these are the most common, in my experience.

What Should You Do About a URLs Not Accessible Sitemap Error in Google Search Console?

When you see a URLs not accessible error, don’t panic. This is not typically a significant error, but merely a glitch. Still, you should make sure this isn’t a consistent problem.

Here’s Google’s explanation of the problem:

“When we tested a sample of the URLs from your Sitemap, we found that some of the URLs were unreachable. Please check your webserver for possible misconfiguration, as these errors may be caused by a server error (such as a 5xx error) or a network error between Googlebot and your server. All reachable URLs will still be submitted.”

 

This is what you should do, when you see the URLs not accessible error:

  1. Visit the URL Google shows you. Does the page exist? Does it load? If you can say, “Yes” to both of these questions then you’ve got nothing to worry about. If not, investigate the problem and fix it.
  2. Make sure the page is not excluded from robots- whether from the robots.txt file or a meta robots “noinded” tag. You can check this manually, which can be tricky if you’re using wildcards in your robots.txt file. That’s where Search Console’s Robots.txt tester can make things a little easier. If the page is excluded from robots but in your XML sitemap, you’re sending mixed-messages to Google. If you don’t want Google to index the page, remove it from your sitemap. If you want it in Google, make sure to allow the bot to view the page.
  3. You can also attempt to fetch the page using Search Console’s Fetch tool. This can identify other potential problems Google might have in reaching the page.

If you work through these steps and don’t identify any problems, I’d call this a glitch. Perhaps your server had a hicup at the time Google attempted to view the page, or something. It’s not a big deal unless you’re seeing this frequently or for many pages. If not, all you need to do is resubmit the sitemap to Google. I’d check back in a week to make sure everything is fixed.

What You Should Do About High Response Time URL Sitemap Errors in Google Search Console?

There are several reasons you might see a high response time sitemap error in Google Search Console.

  • This could also be the result of slow pages. Run Google’s PageSpeed Insights test on your pages, to see how you can make them load faster.
  • If you have several pages with this error, you might have a problem with your server. Contact your web host and ask them for help.
  • If you have this problem consistently and often, you might have to upgrate to a different web host. It could be that your host is low-quality or that another site on your shared server is affecting your site.

Of course, we already know a lot of this from Google’s own explanation of this error:

“Some URLs listed in this Sitemap have a high response time. This may indicate a problem with your server or with the content of the page.”

 

Keep An Eye On Sitemap Errors

Most of the time, in my experience, these are merely glitches. When I check the URLs, everything is in order. Sure, there are always ways we could improve our page speed, but there are rarely causes for concerns.

That being said, keep monitoring these errors. If they show up regularly or seem to be increasing, something could be wrong with your site. We want to make it easy for Google to index our site, not difficult. After all, we can’t do SEO on a website that Google isn’t able to add to their index!

 

Are you seeing other XML sitemap errors in Google Search Console? Ask me about them in the comments, below, and I’ll see if I can help.