Google says you can restrict XML sitemaps to search engines

Google’s John Mueller said it’s okay to restrict your XML sitemaps to search engines only. So you can technically block humans from seeing your XML sitemaps but allow Google to access them.

This happened when Christoph Cemper asked about some sites using Cloudflare to restrict access to their XML sitemap files. Christoph asked “I saw a .Cloudflare ‘protected’ xml sitemap. Wondering if Googlebot would grab that Captcha, or try again later, or just ignore the map. Any experiences/advice @JohnMu on such a case?”

John replied on Twitter saying “That’s fine. These sitemap files are for search engines, and some sites prefer to restrict their access accordingly.”

Here are those tweets:

This clearly wouldn’t be a form of cloaking, as humans don’t need to see your Sitemap files, as XML Sitemap files are designed for search engines, not humans. But that obviously wouldn’t apply to HTML sitemap files…

Discussion forum on Twitter.

Rosemary S. Bishop