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A lot of websites hide their sitemap.xml file.

What I mean by this is that they make the URL something that a person cannot guess and then do not mention them in the robots.txt file.

So my question is why would a website do this?

And does this affect SEO?

2 Answers 2

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Hiding a sitemap lowers the odds of a malicious bot to discover your entire website including the links only advertised in a sitemap but not on the website (for example, a special administration page).

There is really no effect on SEO. Only way I'd be concerned SEO wise is if at least one URL listed in any sitemap file results in a non-200 status code result (meaning if the URL does not return an actual webpage).

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  • Sitemaps have been historically used by scrapers as a shortcut to following links. I used to make mine private. But these days, there is not as much of a problem as there was. Either way, sitemaps have no effect on SEO unless your sites links cannot be crawled for some reason. In that, it only helps that search engines find pages. That is it. Grand sum-total.
    – closetnoc
    Mar 4, 2016 at 4:40
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This will not affect your SEO. Any web crawler will be able to find a website's HTML sitemap as long as there is a link pointing to it.

Remember that you can submit your sitemap to most search engines consoles. You do not need to mention it in the robots.txt. Using any search engines console UI you could submit sitemap-name-you-would-like.xml you do not need to specify it in your robots.txt nor a link in your website.

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  • When you say that Any web crawler will be able to find a website's sitemap as long there is a link pointing to it. Do you mean that somewhere on my website, for example, in the footer, I would have to provide a link to my xml file? I've noticed a lot of website's have user sitemaps as in HTML pages that act as sitemaps, but I've never seen a link to an xml URL.
    – CP3O
    Mar 4, 2016 at 6:07
  • @CP3O Yes that is correct, I referred to the HTML version of the sitemap
    – Raul Reyes
    Mar 4, 2016 at 6:09
  • Is it wrong to then in that case, have both an HTML sitemap as well as an XML sitemap? I believe Google prefers HTML sitemaps to XML sitemaps. ( I may be mistaken)
    – CP3O
    Mar 4, 2016 at 6:12
  • I've commented above.
    – CP3O
    Mar 4, 2016 at 6:36

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