XML sitemaps – so what?

Google has announced Google sitemaps, a service that allows webmasters to craft XML sitemaps to notify Google about their site structure. Another interesting move from Google. Life certainly isn't getting boring.
Why is this better than crawling? Well first, it allows the webmasters to suggest indexing intervals and notify Google about new content. That by itself allows huge enhancements in retrieval efficiency. Second, it generates a framework for passing more metadata to the search engines – in this case, Google provides the possibility for using an intra-site priority variable, allowing webmasters to further refine the indexing speed and frequency of their site (note: it doesn't allow you to affect your position on the search results). And third, it makes indexing of dynamically generated pages considerably easier.
An XML sitemap is not really a new idea – for example, Whidbey has internal support for it for the purpose of breadcrumb path and navigation menu generation – but Google's strike was well-timed. The Sitemaps technology is early enough to make people actually think about generating sitemaps for it, thus perhaps creating the de facto standard for sitemapping. Well, luckily Whidbey's sitemap reader is constructed with a provider architecture, so making the new ASP.NET controls talk to Google XML is a snap.
It'll be very interesting to see how the sitemapping stuff picks up. It won't be easy for large sites with loads of dynamic content – the task of constructing the site map is huge, and keeping it up to date may require considerable changes in existing publishing systems. On the other hand, if Google uses the technology as promised (and I believe they'll do – a good track record helps here), it'll certainly be worth serious consideration.

June 5, 2005 В· Jouni Heikniemi В· Comments Closed
Posted in: Web