One of the sessions I’ve attended today was on sitemaps (XML or TXT files, not a page on your site) and URL submission. The panelists included representatives from all major search engines plus two SEOs, Eric Papczun and Todd Friesen.
Google, Yahoo, Live Search and Ask announced that they will now support a common sitemap standard. So, yes, you’ll be able to use one sitemap on all search engines. However, you’ll still need separate sitemaps for your mobile and news sites.
Priyank Garg from Yahoo was up first. He reminded us that sitemaps can only contain URLs from within the path that it resides on. He also encouraged webmasters to organize their pages into multiple sitemaps and submit those separately. You can even create a “sitemap of sitemaps” to help search engines crawl your site more efficiently. Priyank also talked about a neat way of getting your sitemap autodiscovered by all major search engines (remembered, they now have a common standard). From now on, you can add a link to your sitemap to your robots.txt file using the following line:
Make sure to include a full URL in there, including “http://”
Maile Ohye from Google was next. Some useful tips from Maile include:
- remove session and tracking IDs from your URLs when adding to the sitemap
- in .txt file, only URLs can be included (up to 50,000 per sitemap)
- for RSS sitemaps, Google supports RSS 2.0 and Atom 0.3 formats
- for third party sitemap generation tools, visit http://code.google.com/sm_thirdparty.html
Priyank came up to the mic again, this time to talk about Yahoo Site Explorer. For those of you who are not familiar with it, Yahoo Site Explorer is a tool for webmasters to get more info about their listings in Yahoo. Once you create an account, it is sort of like Google Webmaster Central.
Nathan Buggia from Live.com and Vivek Pathak from Ask.com were in a bit awkward position, neither Live Search or Ask.com have specialized login area for webmasters.
Eric Papczun from Performics was up next. His presentation focused mostly on Google Webmaster Central and how it can aid marketing with their search engine marketing campaigns. For those familiar with GWC, there was nothing new to be taken away from his session. A few important things worth noting were:
- sitemaps are usually picked up within 1-2 days from submission date
- the pages are usually crawled within 3-14 days, a week being an avarage
- use Google Webmaster Central to diagnose any problems Google might have with crawling your site, including pages not found, HTTP errors, unreachable URLs, etc.
Todd Friesen from Range Online Media focused on the Yahoo Search Submit Pro, a paid inclusion program from Yahoo! Search Marketing. These listings appear in the natural results and you pay per each click. However, they are a lot cheaper than regular paid search listings, about 1/3 of the price. Search Submit Pro also gives marketers more flexibility by giving them an ability to create their own titles and descriptions, add quick links, and have access to stats for that listing. Any changes to the listing appear in the index within 48 hours. You can use either regular top level domain submission or a XML feed to submit pages to Yahoo Search Submit Pro.
More info on sitemaps could be at www.sitemaps.org. And kudos to Danny Sullivan for making this session entertaining.
For more coverage from Search Engine Strategies in New York, check out Kent Lewis’ posts below: