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.
Google has launched the Google Custom Search Engine. This new service will allow users to build a search engine based on their interests or just whatever really.
You can give your search engine a name and description. You can also enter a list of keyword that will be used to tune your search engine results. You can also set specific sites to search, so only those sites defined are searched. Here’s a bit from the Google Blog:
We’re thrilled to tell you that the search for your own search engine is over. Today we are launching the Google Custom Search Engine. As you might imagine, it’s a simple and straightforward product to use and understand. In a matter of minutes you can create a search engine that reflects your knowledge and interests; looks and feels like your own; and, if you choose, you can make money from the traffic you receive through Google’s AdSense program. You can even invite your friends and trusted community members to add to and help build your search engine.
RealClimate has already built this new service into their website. So, head over there if you want to see the thing in action. That site actually worked with Google previous to the launch of Google Custom Search Engine so they could get a nice demonstration put together by the launch day.
Google came out with a new service last week called Google Sitemap. It’s mostly a tool for webmasters. You can submit your sitemap to Google so their bot doesn’t have to crawl your pages as much. This way Google can know the entire structure of a website without having to crawl it.
What’s could be better than that? Well, a Google Sitemap generator plugin for WordPress of course. The best part of the plugin is the fact that it updates the sitemap xml file every time you change or publish a post. It also has the ability to generate a new sitemap xml file without editing or publishing a post. You can also specify a filename to save the sitemap xml file as. The official site for the plugin has a screenshot you can see. I saw this a day ago or so on Blogging Pro.