Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Google: Sitemaps

Google has now developed a method that enables webmasters to directly alert Google of new pages or changes to websites. The launch of this service's beta testing phase, had webmasters jumping at the chance to develop and submit their Google XML sitemap in order to get their pages indexed quickly. Prior to this service, an indirect way to get search engines to crawl your website was thru the use of blogs. Bloggers would ping search engines when updates took place, and hopefully the new content would be indexed in a matter of hours.

What if you already have a sitemap for your website - are you wondering what the difference is between Google's XML sitemap and your site map? That's simple; Google's sitemaps are only viewed/crawled by search engine spiders, not web surfers. Also the information on the Google Sitemaps is only valuable to search engines in a format favorable for spidering and indexing.

Google's XML sitemap service does not change the way Google searches and indexes websites; it does however supply them with additional information that they would not have noticed otherwise. Since the process of crawling and indexing new web pages is taking longer and longer, this will give both Google and webmasters a step up in getting their changes/additions indexed.

This service is a benefit to both webmasters and Google alike, Google benefits by not having their resources crawl sites that haven't been updated, therefore speeding up their overall indexing process all together. Webmasters are excited about Google sitemaps because this now gives them the opportunity to direct Google's crawlers to the exact location of new pages and changes. The way Google has it formatted allows Webmaster to notify the search engine when pages were last updated, the interval in-between page changes and the priority of pages importance in relation to one another.

Points according to Google:
-A Sitemap simply gives Google additional information that we may not otherwise discover.
-If your site has dynamic content or pages that aren't easily discovered by following links, you can use a Sitemap file to provide information about the pages on your site. This helps the spiders know what URLs are available on your site and about how often they change.
-Google Sitemaps is an experiment in web crawling. By using Sitemaps to inform and direct our crawlers, we hope to expand our coverage of the web and speed up the discovery and addition of pages to our index.

You can participate in the Google Sitemaps program by following these basic steps:
1. Creating a Sitemap in a supported format.
2. Submitting that Sitemap to Google.
3. Updating your Sitemap when your site changes.

For a less technical version you may want to check out Google's Site Map Info.