Debugging Google Webmasters Error: “Couldn’t Fetch”

About three months ago, I was hit with a $90.00 re-up fee for renewing my domain 1000daysofcode.com.

I initially paid $11.00 for the domain, so either it became a more valuable product after I built it up, OR, GoDaddy doesn’t is in the habit of exploiting all site owners with this, “buy low now, but we’ll rake you over the coals later, because now you have time and effort involved” re-up fee.

Either way, after experiencing this, I realized that the domain business, is just another business. I half-expected things like buying a domain would fall more under the (Domain Name Service) as a formality more than a business.

After having the curtain lifted on something that’s a business, the first thing any consumer does when researching investments is compare options. And the first options that are most appealing are of course, the lowest price. And if you see a service that’s free, you’re going to see what its all about.

That’s why I have mufasa.gq. The domain was free to purchase, and had a very simple method to update Nameservers, and switch everything.

So switching domains for me was financially free, and cost me about an hour of time to migrate. Once finished, I resubmitted Google Analytics applications along with Google Search Console. I re-verified everything with Google, and it was good. But one thing I noticed was that the sitemap couldn’t be submitted. I kept getting the following error.

I figured that the Google Search console would take some time to update, and that I’d be able to resubmit within the 48 hours. This never happened, so even three months later, my sitemap was not able to be resubmitted.

There really wasn’t any supporting documents to figure out my error. All I was getting was “couldn’t fetch” . Finally, I figured out a way to debug this issue, as well as pinpoint the cause.

What To Do.

Log into Google Search Console, and make sure to switch to Google’s new version of the search console.

Now, at the top of the screen, you will see a search bar that says inspect url.

Here is where your going to want to inspect your sitemap. Doing this in the new version is better, because before your only option before was to use the Googlebot Fetch and Render.

But now, you can pass in any URL, and run fetch and render that returns much more verbose information as to what’s going on.

So I copied the full url of the sitemap, and inspected it in the new Google Search Console.

Make sure to use the fully qualified domain. For example, I copy and pasted the following into the inspect bar.

http://mufasa.gq/sitemap.xml

Google returned more information than usual. I got a new error I’ve never seen before.

And finally, I researched the error and came across this Google Forums thread that basically said Google wont redirect my top level domain. They don’t appreciate the fact that I acquired a totally free domain, and wont index my sitemap because I used a funky TLD (.gq) .

I always suspected this, but now I know for sure this was the issue, and I dont think I could have found out about this first-hand, unless I went through this whole process.

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