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Friday, June 03, 2005

Google Rolls Out Standardized Sitemap Protocol

Definitely didn't see this one coming.

Google's new SiteMaps offering (not to be confused with the Google Site Map or Google Maps) should be a healthy step towards helping sites communicate the whereabouts of important pages to Googlebot to ensure proper indexing. It strikes me as a sensible standard to adopt. Hopefully there will be not too much confusion out there as to the impact this will have on rankings or traffic. It should just eliminate some of the confusion around hard-to-index sites and pages, whether a site map might help, etc.

I wish this had been around years ago. When they had to ask themselves questions about their hard-to-index sites, three or four years ago the conversation in companies of any size was often about how to completely revamp the website to improve indexability, and which technology or service vendor was the best one for that. It might take six months to come to a decision. (Sure, someone could have just fixed it, but all companies don't work that way.)

Now, with a clear and easy-to-follow site map protocol, the questions are simpler: "who is really in charge of the website at this company anyway?" and "when are they going to deal with the site map issue?" Even these questions will not be answered at all companies. Buck-passers, take note. This stuff needs to be taken care of.

Let's not presume that this means great rankings and traffic for catalog-centric sites. We know that screen real estate in Google results is being taken up by Froogle results as well as Google AdWords ads. And getting your page on the first page depends on how well Google likes your page compared to all of the other relevant pages on the web. Insofar as Google Search has an "information" bias, if you're selling stuff you can't expect great huge bumps in traffic just because you participate in SiteMap. But you're bound to see some improvement. More importantly, since everyone else will be participating, you can't afford not to.

Posted by Andrew Goodman




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