Search Engines Unite On Sitemaps Autodiscovery
Yahoo united to support sitemaps, a
standardized method of submitting web pages through feeds to the search engines.
Today, the three are now joined by Ask.com in supporting the system and an
extension of it called autodiscovery. This is where the major search engines
will automatically locate your sitemaps file if the location is listed in a
robots.txt file. Announcements are up from
Google and Ask
now Yahoo and
Information on how to create sitemaps files can be found at the
Sitemaps.org site. Aside from the
sitemaps XML formal, you can also provide RSS 2.0 or Atom 0.3 or 1.0 feeds.
That’s handy for those with blogs that already generate these feeds.
Sitemaps XML files too complicated? Don’t run a blog? Note that the site has
newly expanded information on how you can submit a simple list of URLs in a text
In the past, if you created a sitemaps file, you then had to manually tell
the search engines where to find it. With today’s announcement, search engines
will check your
robots.txt file for a link to a sitemaps file, then get the file from that
location. This is a big plus because all the major search engines regularly
check robots.txt files as part of their ordinary crawling.
To add the location, just put a line like this anywhere in your robots.txt
Replace the LOCATION-OF-SITEMAPS-FILE with the actual location. For example,
if you ran a site at mywonderfulsite.com and had a sitemaps file called
allmypages.xml in your top level, the reference would be like this:
Have more than one sitemaps file? Ideally, you’d create a special "sitemaps
index" file that links to all of them, then put a link to the sitemaps index
file in your robots.txt file. If that sounds like too much work, you can have
more than one sitemaps URL listed in the robots.txt file.
Aside from autodiscovery, you can also ping Google and Yahoo with the
location of your file. The Sitemaps.org site has more instructions on this in
general. For specifics:
- Google: See
here. Note that this pinging is different than the pinging Google
supports for blog search.
- Yahoo: See
here. Unlike Google, the same pinging system is used for both web and blog
search, to my understanding.
Both Google and Yahoo also allow you to manually submit sitemaps files. In
both cases, doing this via their
Google Webmaster Central or
Yahoo Site Explorer systems gives you access to specialized monitoring and
reporting tools or information on how they crawl you.
For more about these tools, or how each individual search engine handles
sitemaps files, please see the links below:
- Google: Google
Webmaster Central or
- Yahoo: Yahoo Site
- Microsoft Live:
submit page or
submit help info
webmaster help info
Keep in mind that Microsoft and Ask are still lacking references to sitemaps
information, but I expect this will change over time.
(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)
Everything you need to know about SEO, delivered every Thursday.