I'm using Google Webmaster Tools to get my forum out there, and when I go to submit the sitemap I get the following error:

Your Sitemap appears to be an HTML page. Please use a supported sitemap format instead.

I've gotten this on numerious directories and files. I thought /public_html/forums/store_sitemap would do it, but I got two of the exact same error message. I've even tried downloading and uploading a sitemap.xml document, but it gave me the same thing. It's the same error message for everything. I'd like to keep this as automated as possible since vBulletin can generate a new sitemap upon my choosing.

  • Hard to say what could be the problem without seeing the file in question.
    – Max
    Oct 14, 2013 at 9:30
  • Here is the PHP that autogenerates the .xml file: vivalanation.com/forums/xmlsitemap.php I did get more into it. I found that the permissions were set so people couldn't see the board when they were unregistered, which meant that Google couldn't access the file. I set up all the permissions properly now. Now here is the kicker, if I test it using the above link, it works, no errors. If I submit it, I get the error above. Oct 14, 2013 at 13:00
  • Here is the result of the test: i.imgur.com/ZlAPjNO.png And here is the result of the submission: i.imgur.com/caE2Eyq.png So it's passing the test but failing the submission for some reason. Oct 14, 2013 at 13:18

1 Answer 1


I downloaded your sitemap file using wget and ran it through xmllint which checks it for errors. You appear to have a problem with the character encoding.

$ wget http://www.vivalanation.com/forums/xmlsitemap.php?fn=vbulletin_sitemap_thread_0.xml.gz
$ xmllint xmlsitemap.php\?fn=vbulletin_sitemap_thread_0.xml.gz 
xmlsitemap.php?fn=vbulletin_sitemap_thread_0.xml.gz:1234: parser error : Input is not proper UTF-8, indicate encoding !
Bytes: 0xF1 0x6F 0x6C 0x2D

Google won't be able to read your file unless you fix the UTF-8 encoding issues.

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