Standard Sitemaps From Google, Yahoo and Microsoft

Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft have all agreed on a standard specification for sitemap files. Information about the new standard can be found over at sitemaps.org. If you’re not sure what a sitemap is, sitemaps.org has a nice explanation:

Sitemaps are an easy way for webmasters to inform search engines about pages on their sites that are available for crawling. In its simplest form, a Sitemap is an XML file that lists URLs for a site along with additional metadata about each URL (when it was last updated, how often it usually changes, and how important it is, relative to other URLs in the site) so that search engines can more intelligently crawl the site.


Fortunately for me, there’s really nothing I have to do to take advantage of this new spec. I’ve had a sitemap file for quite a while, and it gets updated dynamically with every new post I make. My sitemap xml file is quite large.

Joseph Scott brings up an important aspect of this new spec, pinging. Pinging basically means that when you make an update to your blog or site, you can ping Google/Yahoo/MSN to let them know you’ve made an update. That way they can crawl your site sooner to index your new content. Pretty neat.

Gmail For Your Domain

Hosted Gmail, or “Gmail for your domain”, is sweet. It provides the ability to use the Gmail interface with your domains email. So, I go to my hosted Gmail and I can send/receive email at the longren.org domain.

I had to change my MX records at DreamHost over to Google’s, naturally. I didn’t include a priority when switching them over though, stupid. I guess I was expecting a seperate form field for those. Didn’t cause much of a delay though.
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I really like the idea of “Gmail for your domain.” It serves it’s purpose very well. I could go for a few more features in the administration area. The “Advanced Tools” in the picture is really a “tool” for editing your accounts in bulk. Under “Domain Settings” you’ll have the opportunity to set a custom logo, edit the sign-in page, and enable/disable chat. The only thing you can currently edit on the sign-in page is the color of the username/password boxes. Click for a bigger picture.
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I expect a whole slew of new customizable settings as the beta progresses. I believe the chat feature was just added today, although standard Gmail has had that for some time now. I’d really like to be able to edit the title used on pages. It seems to just use the domain as the title right now.

I noticed they’ve got an “Account Plan” indicator on the administration dashboard. Google will probably start charging for this service once it’s out of beta, which could be in like 15 years. I mean, Gmail itself is still in beta. They might even charge per user, I’ve got “Up to 200 users for free.” I’d actually expect a pricing schema very similar to that seen today in web hosting. But probably cheaper.

Hopefully that screenshot isn’t against the TOS or anything. I’m not gonna bother reading that 50 page psycho-babble though. Maybe I’ll post more screenshots later.

On a somewhat related note, Garett Rogers (at ZDNet blogs) is speculating about “Google Music“. It’s not news though, just hardcore speculation.

Information gathered at the Digital Hollywood pre-show suggests Google is holding an invitation only event for twenty top music industry executives this Thursday. This may suggest that Google is moving forward plans to compete with Apple and others in the downloadable music space.

The topic of this meeting isn’t known, but we can speculate that Google may be showing an early stage product that is in the making or trying to form partnerships like they have with CBS.

UPDATE: Science Addiction has a nice review of Gmail for your domain, along with screenshots. Site may be slow as it got slashdotted earlier today, seems to be recovering now.