Can outdated sitemap hurt SEO?


#1

I have a few web sites for which I have created sitemap.xml, however these sites are not on my priority list for perfect SEO and because of lack of time I haven't updated their sitemaps. In effect the sitemaps lack some of the new pages that have been added to the site and some of the sitemap entries don't reflect the actual modification time - the information is outdated. I'm wondering - for web sites where I don't have time or resources to maintain the sitemap (or implement an automated mechanism) - would it be better to get rid of the sitemap altogether and let the google bot craw the site on its own accord? I'm afraid outdated sitemaps may do more harm than good, am I right?


#2

I can't find anything in Google's help that would indicate an out-of-date sitemap could do harm. They make it clear that they use other means to discover and crawl pages, and also that including pages in a sitemap doesn't guarantee they will be indexed. Have you noticed any decline in these sites' performance in search?

Two articles which might help:

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/156184?hl=en

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/183669?hl=en&ref_topic=4581190


#3

I'm thinking the worse that would happen is the GONE pages would show in your webmaster tools report and get to be annoying after a while.


#4

Try using Googke Chrome and enter the following into the search bar:

site:sitenametobetested.com

The results should show if the latest pages are indexed.

edit:
Found link:

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35256?hl=en


#5

Thanks for the information. I already know those google tutorials but they don't directly answer my question. I didn't notice any problems due to outdated sitemaps, I'm just wondering that maybe some pages may be crawled with a delay due to a wrong date in the sitemap or because of being absent there. I'm just being cautious.

I come to the conclusion that in such cases I might as well get rid of them. Reading the "Do I need a sitemap?" from the link by @TechnoBear, my answer is 'no' to all those questions so I presume a sitemap is not necessary for those simple cases.


#6

At the end of the day, the sitemap is a part of how navigable your site is. It allows new pages to get indexed faster as the google bot finds tertiary that lead back to your new page (through the sitemap). I think a sitemap can only help, not hurt. That's been my personal experience. That said, if you have dead (500 error) pages that aren't redirected properly with a 302 redirect and those pages are linked through your sitemap, then yes - i think that could be harmful.


#9

An outdated sitemap might not directly hurt your rankings because of any penalties or anything that's for sure if you wanted to ask that. But if you talk about it in general, then your rankings would go down because of the fact that the algorithm of fetching data of the crawler might change with time and your outdated sitemap may hinder it from getting all the data it requires to update the current ranking values.
So, it is more of a secondary effect which might hurt you in the long run.
But there aren't any specific penalties for it.


#10

Out dated sitemap can't any harm done for your site but it's beneficial that you regularly update your sitemap because Search engine easily crawl your website updates.


#11

There are somethings which are effected by the sitemap.
In consideration of SEO, you should not leave any loophole due to which the search engine may push your website to the back in the SERPs.
So I would recommend you that you should prefer to do a good White Hat SEO.


#12

If there are old URls still present in an XML site map the search engines may try to crawl the URL and when they dont fine the page there will be an Crawl Error triggered... Although i dont think they cause many issues with SEO its just best practice that you remove these and either canonicalise them or 301 them to a relevant page.


#13

Since you don't have time and resources to manage sitemaps, you should install a plugin/extension which generates sitemap automatically.

When you will publish new pages, it will automatically get added to sitemap and google will index.

This way you won't loose any opportunity of indexing.

My personal advice is you shouldn't delete sitemaps.


#14

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