APerez It all started with the humix activation. On the 7th of January the sitemap was added and instantly I lost all my SERP visibility. It's not like I had a ton of organic traffic on my website however, the site impressions were steadily increasing which literally died and remains dead!
- I checked for a Manual Action and Security Issues via console - none found.
- I checked with Yoast SEO if it was an issue with their sitemap - none found.
- I checked with my host (Bluehost) - no issues found and also had them clear server level cache or SSH something.
- On the 13th and 14th of Jan, I had bot traffic coming in via a website called blogarama.com - Removed my listing from that website and the fake bot (masked traffic) stopped.
- RE-checked my Cloudflare integration to debug any issues - none found.
- Added Wordfence security assuming there might be a virus or malware affecting the website - none found
- Checked Silelock Security (Paid Member) - no issues found.
Google does discover the Yoast Sitemap Index (successful fetch) but is unable to crawl and read the post and page sitemap within the index.
Hence, I manually added the post-sitemap.xml and page-sitemap.xml
I have been Googling if having 2 sitemaps in root directory can affect the crawler. Surprisingly there is NOTHING on the internet with a direct answer for that question! All articles lead me to the concept of a sitemap index which basically states that we should have only 1 sitemap which can be a sitemap index and then have several sitemaps within it.
I'm inferring this as "We should NOT have 2 sitemaps in the root directory" but rather have just 1 sitemap index and include all sitemaps within it. Since I have 2 sitemaps in the root directory, I assume, google is just crawling the first one it comes across (Ezoic) and doesn't bother to read the 2nd one, which in this case is the Yoast SEO sitemap!
I could be wrong but Google hasn't crawled the post-sitemap.xml since the 8th on January.
Another reason could be that, previously I had tried a multilingual plugin for a while which I de-activated (somewhere in November, 22). This caused a lot of 404 pages on my website and I used the temporary removal tool on console to get rid of them from SERP.
I think it's either the 2 sitemap issue or that there are so many unnecessary pages created that my crawl budget is severely impacted, so much that, google doesn't even bother crawling the actual live pages anymore.
I checked on Google webmaster blogs and they say that it's okay to have 404 pages as Google will eventually crawl them less and less often. Besides, these multilingual pages aren't even on my website as they were created by a plugin and probably hosted on their server, hence I literally have no access to these dead pages.
I've though about adding a 301 re-direct to them using Yoast Premium but I don't want to F it up anymore than that I may already have! (Hence, the temporary removal tool was used)
So here you have it! My entire nightmare in a no so short post. If you can confirm having 2 sitemaps is NOT the issue, then I can just work on the 404 pages BUT only if you are sure about it.
Honestly, at this point, any piece of advise or an answer will help! Thanks..