Your blog and Google Sitemaps: summary, and note on feedsWednesday, August 31, 2005
In my earlier post I described how blogs or websites who have newsfeeds can ping Google when they've updated their site with new posts or webpages, in order to ask Google to re-index the updated site. (Though how soon Google respond is another matter! Still, it has to be better than waiting for their bot to get round to your site as part of its usual re-crawls, which can be rather random).
Just to summarise here, for those who don't want to plough through the long version in the previous post [updated 28 April 2006 as Google have changed the way you do this and also permitted users to verify through a meta tag]:
1. Make sure your site is being indexed by Google already (no point pinging them if it isn't!). Submit your blog URL to Google if not, and then be patient - do the occasional search to check.
2. Assuming your blog is already on Google, sign in to Google Sitemaps using your blog Gmail address (or register with Google for a Google Account if you haven't yet, then sign in).
3. Under Add Site, enter the URL of your blog and OK. Against your blog URL, click Add a Sitemap, choose type Add General Web Sitemap. In the list that appears, tick all the boxes:
- I have created a Sitemap in a supported format.
- I have uploaded my Sitemap to the highest-level directory to which I have access.
- My Sitemap URL is:
Check back by logging in from time to time; the Sitemap Status column should change from Pending to OK which means they've, theoretically at least, re-crawled your blog.
[Edited 1 Sept 2005:] After it's done the first re-crawl, under your site name there's a link labelled "Verify" which asks you to upload a verification file to your server. If you can't upload anything (which is the case with us Blogspot users), don't worry about it. Verification just gives you access to more detailed Google stats; the lack of it won't stop Google from re-indexing your blog at all - see the Sitemaps help (but consider lobbying Blogger (the Suggest New Feature box at the bottom) and also Google Sitemaps to allow what we need - tell 'em you want Blogspot users to be able to have full Sitemaps functionality including verification!) [Added 28 April 2006:] As from 26 April 2006 you can now verify your Blogspot blog - see this post for a howto and why you might want to verify.
4. In future, when you update your blog or site, ping Google Sitemaps. Other ways are mentioned in my previous post, all just variations on the same thing, but the easiest way by far is to use this form - fill in your blog feed's URL (NOT main blog URL), then hit the button. Bookmark the resulting page or save it as a favorite, then next time you want to ping Google, just click on the saved bookmark/favorite:
Checking your feedI just wanted to add a note about the importance of checking your site feed settings. Google takes your feed file (the XML file) to use for its sitemap. This means what gets re-crawled on your site or blog will depend on what's in your feed.
So - you should make sure your feed file is being created in the first place, if you don't already make use of your feed! In Blogger it's Settings, Site Feed, and make sure Publish Site Feed is set to Yes (it should be by default anyway - Blogger normally create the feed file for you whether or not you make use of it).
Also, Google will only notice the URLs of posts which are listed in your site feed. If the feed shows only the last 5 posts, and you've just written 15, the earliest 10 may not get picked up. To fix this, you need to change the settings so that your feed reflects the number of posts that will be most appropriate for your blog, e.g. 15 in this case, and leave it like that until Google have re-crawled your blog. It's easiest to pick a number that will work for how much and how often you post on average, and then leave it alone. (If you've not come across feeds as used in your blog yet, I plan to write an introduction sometime, when I can get to it! For now, if you're on Blogger at least, hopefully this explanation will be enough for present purposes).
There should be a setting somewhere to tweak your feed. On Blogger, it's not on your site feed page - instead go to Settings then the Formatting tab. It's the setting for Show X posts on the main page. This seems also to dictate the number of posts shown in your site feed. So you can adjust the number there.
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