I was working on my website and suddenly noticed that my sitemap page, which is usually accessible at website.com/sitemap or website.com/sitemap.xml or website.com/sitemap_index.xml, was now returning a 404 error. Since the sitemap of the website is managed by the Rank Math SEO plugin, which is my default for many websites, it was an error generated by the plugin.
Worried about its impact on my site’s search visibility, I immediately checked the Google Search Console (GSC) and found that it was also showing a “Couldn’t fetch” error for the sitemap.
Fortunately, I remembered a solution that could possibly fix the issue – flushing the permalinks in WordPress.
Simple steps to fix sitemap 404 error in Rank Math:
Here’s what I did to resolve the RankMath SEO sitemap 404 error:
Step 1: WordPress Login
First, I logged in to my WordPress dashboard using my administrator credentials.
Step 2: Accessing Permalinks Settings
Once inside the WordPress dashboard, I navigated to the “Settings” tab located on the left-hand side and clicked on “Permalinks.”
Step 3: Flushing Permalinks
On the Permalinks settings page (website.com/wp-admin/options-permalink.php), I didn’t make any changes to the permalink structure. Instead, I just clicked on the “Save Changes” button at the bottom of the page. This action flushes the permalinks, which can sometimes fix issues related to URL rewriting and resolve the sitemap 404 error. We’ve also covered a guide to flush permalinks in WordPress here.
Step 4: Verifying Sitemap Status
After saving the changes, I went back to my website and tried accessing the sitemap page again. To my relief, the 404 error was gone, and the sitemap was now loading correctly. To ensure that the issue was fixed, I also rechecked the Google Search Console, and the “Couldn’t fetch” error had disappeared as well. My sitemap was being detected successfully.
Note: If the search console still showing an error to fetch the sitemap, please note that it can take time to reflect changes. You can also speed it up by resubmitting the sitemap and it’ll work.
Flushing the permalinks in WordPress helped me resolve the RankMath SEO sitemap 404 error on my website. It’s essential to remember that this solution might not work for all cases, in that case, you can disable and enable the Rank Math plugin again and see if it works.
And if you’re still facing the issue after trying this method, it’s recommended to reach out to Rank Math support or seek assistance from a knowledgeable WordPress developer.
Additionally, this issue was only encountered with Rank Math, you can give it a try if you’re experiencing similar issues with Yoast SEO, All-in-one SEO, or other SEO plugins as well. Remember, keeping a functioning sitemap is crucial for search engine optimization (SEO) as it helps search engines index and crawl your website effectively.
I hope this guide helps you fix the sitemap 404 error on your WordPress website just like it did for me!
Why is my RankMath SEO sitemap returning a 404 error?
The 404 error for the RankMath SEO sitemap can occur due to various reasons, such as plugin conflicts, permalink structure issues, or server misconfigurations. It might also happen after updating WordPress or the RankMath plugin.
What is the importance of a sitemap in SEO?
A sitemap is a crucial tool for SEO as it helps search engines like Google understand the structure and organization of your website’s content. Having a functional sitemap allows search engines to crawl and index your site more effectively, leading to better visibility in search results.
Does flushing permalinks affect my website’s SEO?
Flushing permalinks in WordPress does not directly impact your website’s SEO. It simply refreshes the URL rewriting rules and can help resolve certain URL-related issues, such as the sitemap 404 error. However, it won’t affect your site’s rankings or SEO performance.
I followed the steps to flush permalinks, but my sitemap issue remains unresolved. What should I do?
If flushing permalinks didn’t fix the sitemap 404 error, there could be other underlying issues causing the problem. In such cases, you can try disabling other plugins one by one to check for conflicts, or you may reach out to RankMath support for assistance. Alternatively, consulting a WordPress developer with experience in troubleshooting sitemap issues could be helpful.
Is RankMath SEO the only plugin that can cause sitemap 404 errors in WordPress?
No, sitemap 404 errors can be caused by various factors, including other SEO plugins, theme conflicts, or server-related issues. While RankMath SEO is a popular SEO plugin, it’s not the only one that may encounter such problems.
How often should I update my sitemap in WordPress?
Your sitemap should update automatically whenever you create new content, update existing pages, or add/remove URLs. Most SEO plugins, including RankMath, handle sitemap updates automatically, ensuring that search engines always have the latest information about your site’s structure.
Can I create a sitemap manually for my WordPress website?
Yes, it is possible to create a sitemap manually, but it’s not recommended, especially for larger websites. Using an SEO plugin like RankMath automatically generates and maintains the sitemap, saving you time and effort while ensuring accuracy.
Are there any alternative solutions to fixing the sitemap 404 error?
Yes, if flushing permalinks doesn’t work, you can try disabling and re-enabling the RankMath plugin, clearing your website’s cache, or checking your server’s rewrite rules. However, if the issue persists, it’s best to seek professional help or reach out to the plugin’s support team.