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Dinged For HTML Site Map - It Was Good For Years

     
4:58 pm on Feb 16, 2018 (gmt 0)

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MY GSC, under Crawl - Sitemaps is now telling me I have an error.

I have always had 2 sitemaps - .txt and .htm - for over 10 years.
But for a month now, my .txt sitemap says --->
"Sitemap is HTML
Your Sitemap appears to be an HTML page. Please use a supported sitemap format instead."

My Bing Webmaster Tools used to love my 2 sitemaps, and applauded me for having both -
One for bots, and one for visitors. I just checked - not any more.
Just the complicated unwieldy .xml, which I don't want to deal with, and .txt.

I STILL think it is a good idea to have an HTML sitemap for visitors.
But, apparently, now, you MUST NEVER SUBMIT IT.
Or you will be told that it is unacceptable with a yellow exclamation point "ding".

So, I believe that having an HTML sitemap for visitors is good - just don't ever submit it.
I deleted it from the GSC, to make them happy,
but I have NO intention of deleting it from my site.

Thoughts?
.
6:58 pm on Feb 16, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I remember them well .txt sitemaps. I think they would prefer a xml sitemap as .txt sitemaps were if memory serves for submission to Slurp!. No need to get rid of your .htm sitemap but .txt is no good for visitors or se's. So delete and replace with a XML sitemap, there are a number of generators for static sites you can buy or if your using a cms mostly its included for free. Also this is a Google forum not Bing so it might be best the post is relocated
7:48 pm on Feb 16, 2018 (gmt 0)

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In my opinion, for small sites of 50 pages or less it's best not to submit a sitemap at all.
7:59 pm on Feb 16, 2018 (gmt 0)

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As seokunk advises, post an xml sitemap for Google. For small sites (>500 pages) there are several free online xml sitemap generators, and quite a few html editors include them (without any page limit). Online versions have the advantage of crawling your site as-is, but all of them are simple to use.

Several tools also allow you to set change frequency and priority (or will autogenerate values for these). If you need to make a decision, set changefreq to monthly, and priority for all pages except your home page to 0.8 (your home page is safe with 1.0), but Google will ignore them so you can safely ignore them too.
9:09 pm on Feb 16, 2018 (gmt 0)

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But, apparently, now, you MUST NEVER SUBMIT IT.
That sounds reasonable, in fact. Keep it for humans, but slap on a noindex tag--or put it in a roboted-out directory--and don't mention it in GSC.
10:30 pm on Feb 16, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Lucy its a .txt file as useless to humans as it to bots...
10:32 pm on Feb 16, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@seoskunk - I included it just for comparison purposes to Google.
... if it is useless to bots, then why does Google say its OK?

@aristotle - My site is about 440 pages.

@wilburforce - Google accepts txt sitemaps - very clean, and good enough for me. I could generate an XML from screaming frog, but why?
I expect it will generate more issues. I have too many issues already, like why doesn't this work, why doesn't that work, why is Google messing SO MANY things up, these days. This was good, now its bad. This was bad, now its good. Etc., etc., etc.
.
10:35 pm on Feb 16, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Is it a static site?

Yes your right google still accepts .txt as sitemaps

This is a Bing issue
11:51 pm on Feb 16, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I could generate an XML from screaming frog, but why? I expect it will generate more issues.


What issues would it generate? I remember a debate - in about 2004 or 2005 I think - about whether sitemaps of any kind could harm Google ranking, which had certainly been resolved before 2008 (see [webmasters.googleblog.com ]. which also addresses other issues raised here). Broadly, generating an XML sitemap from Screaming Frog and submitting in GSC is exactly what you should be doing. It probably won't have any noticeable effect compared with not submtting one at all, but it will take a couple of minutes - OK, another couple of minutes every time you add or remove pages - and "in most cases, your site will benefit from having a sitemap, and you'll never be penalized for having one" (Google Support, linked from the URL above).
6:45 am on Feb 17, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Some sties seem to benefit from sitemaps, but most don't need one if the site nav is properly structured and complete ... and the site is 10k urls or less. Fitting into se crawl budgets seems more important (IMO). Larger sites just take a bit longer (with a lot of duplicate EFFORT on their part to get it all).

That said, use the sitemap format the se's are looking for. KISS method. As for txt versions ... the web has changed since then.
1:57 pm on Feb 17, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I STILL think it is a good idea to have an HTML sitemap for visitors.
But, apparently, now, you MUST NEVER SUBMIT IT.
Or you will be told that it is unacceptable with a yellow exclamation point "ding".

The issue is not whether to have a sitemap or whether to use a sitemap.txt file, the problem described in the opening post is that Google does not want to have a sitemap.htm(l) submitted.

Solution is simple - as lucy24 said - noindex the user version, the sitemap.htm and you're good with both Google and Bing. Don't submit the html version as a sitemap - noindex the sitemap for visitors.
3:04 pm on Feb 17, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@not2easy

No reason to noindex the html version, just don't submit it to Google. From the link I posted above:

"There's a difference between a (usually HTML) site map built to help humans navigate around your site, and an XML Sitemap built for search engines. Both of them are useful, and it's great to have both. A site map on your domain can also help search engines find your content (since crawlers can follow the links on the page). However, if you submit an HTML site map in place of a Sitemap, Webmaster Tools will report an error because an HTML page isn't one of our recognized Sitemap formats."
7:32 pm on Feb 17, 2018 (gmt 0)

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its a .txt file as useless to humans as it to bots
Er, I was referring to the .htm file discussed in the first post. I thought that was the whole point of the thread.

Besides, both humans and robots can read .txt files just fine.