My sitemap is blank, what’s wrong?

Last update: 03 September, 2016

First, determine whether you have a blank or an empty sitemap. A blank sitemap is basically a white screen with no header, no links, nothing at all. An empty sitemap shows the sitemap header but contains no links.

In This Article:

  • Blank Sitemaps – white screen with no text
  • Empty Sitemaps – sitemap header but no URLs
  • 404 or other error – Please refer to this article.

Blank Sitemaps

Sometimes opening the sitemap in Firefox will provide a detailed message if other browsers are showing a blank page.

There could be several things wrong. So please check all of these things:

  1. First, check whether the source of the sitemap shows you the data you would expect in an XML sitemap. Not sure how to see the source code, follow the steps in this article.
  2. Second, if the sitemap source code contains data, make sure the XSL file, linked in the very top of the XML file, is available. Sometimes this file gets blocked by .htaccess prevention of the wp-content directory.
  3. Third, if you’re using W3 Total Cache, and the setting “Do not process 404 errors for static objects with WordPress” is turned on, you should add the following exception:

([a-z]+)?-?sitemap.xsl

Add that line here:

Minify exclusion
If you’re using W3 Total Cache and you’re (also) using it to minify your pages, this could also be causing the blank sitemap issue. To solve it, please input the same line of code as above to the “Never minify the following pages:” setting under Minify > Advanced:

If the sitemap source code is empty, you may have a static file, theme or plugin conflict. The fastest way to rule out conflicts is to deactivate all non-Yoast plugins and switch the a standard theme like Twenty Fourteen. If the sitemap works, you have a conflict and should activate one plugin or theme at a time until you locate the conflict. If the sitemap is still blank, FTP into your site to locate and remove any static sitemaps.

Another possible issue is that the XML is invalid, if you open the XML sitemap in Firefox, you’ll usually see this as that would display an error. If that’s the case, please email us with a link to the XML sitemap and we’ll try to debug and fix the issue.

Empty Sitemaps

The most common reason for an empty sitemap is no matched data and this typically happens with specialty sitemaps like the video and news sitemaps.

If your news sitemap is empty, you probably haven’t published anything recently. Per the Google guidelines, your news sitemap should contain only URLs for your articles published in the last two days.

If your video sitemap is empty, the Video SEO plugin has not located any videos on your site. Please ensure you have set up the plugin correctly including the initial re-index of your videos to locate videos that were posted prior to the plugin activation. If the sitemap remains empty after re-indexing videos, please check for theme or plugin conflicts. The fastest way to rule out conflicts is to deactivate all non-Yoast plugins and switch the a standard theme like Twenty Fourteen. If the sitemap works, you have a conflict and should activate one plugin or theme at a time until you locate the conflict.

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