How to fix “No Referring Sitemaps Detected”

Encountering the “No referring sitemaps detected” message in your Google Search Console might seem alarming at first. However, this message isn’t necessarily an error that needs to be fixed

In fact, it simply indicates that this page wasn’t discovered from the sitemap. Instead, Google is finding and indexing the pages through different ways, such as backlinks, internal links or RSS feeds. 

Understanding Sitemaps

A sitemap is a file where you provide information about the content on your site, and the relationships between them. 

Search engines like Google read this file to crawl your site more effectively. There are different types of sitemaps, such as XML sitemaps, which are particularly important for SEO, and HTML sitemaps, which can help users navigate your site.

However, Google is smart enough to crawl and index your site without any sitemap. Unless you have really huge site or an orphaned page that is buried deep in your website, otherwise Google normally can still crawl and index your page without a sitemap.

What does “No Referring Sitemaps Detected” really mean?

Google can use various methods to discover pages, including following links from other sites, internal links within your website, and direct submissions – and sitemap is only one of them.

So, when you see the “No referring sitemaps detected” message in the Page Indexing report, it just means that Google discovered your pages from sources other than a sitemap. 

This message indicates that:

  • Google is successfully crawling your site without relying solely on your sitemap.
  • Your site likely has a good internal linking structure and/or external backlinks.

It’s important to note that this isn’t inherently a problem. However, having a properly configured sitemap can still provide benefits and ensure that all pages, especially new or updated ones, are indexed promptly.

“No Referring Sitemaps Detected” – An example

Here is one of my recent posts that encountered the “No referring sitemaps detected” when inspecting the URL in Google Search Console.

However, this page was still being indexed as Google found my page via /feed/ on 22 Jun 2024 (the date it was published). 

Now, let’s check our sitemap:

Updated sitemap was not processed when the page was crawled

As you can see, our sitemap index was last read by Google on 21 Jun 2024. So, there was a gap between when the sitemap was processed and when the page was crawled. 

Thus, you can see the message “No Referring Sitemaps Detected” – it simply indicates that your page was not found from sitemap. Yet, as the page was still being indexed as intended.

How to fix “No Referring Sitemaps Detected”

As simple as it may sound, but check if your sitemap includes the page and a good rule of thumb is to keep your sitemap up-to-date.. 

Most of the time, this isn’t an issue that needs to be fixed. Use the URL Inspection Tool to check if the page was indexed – if it can be indexed through other sources, then you can sit back and relax.

However, if you encountered “Page is not indexed: Crawled – currently not indexed”, it suggests that Google has crawled the page but has chosen not to include it in the search index. Normally, this is irrelevant to your sitemap, but related to other issues, such as page quality (thin or duplicate content), technical issues or internal linking.

In such cases, I would recommend auditing the page to identify the underlying issues and optimize it accordingly.

Aubrey Yung

Aubrey Yung

Aubrey is an SEO Consultant with 5+ years of B2B and B2C marketing experience.