Last week, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft agreed to support the Sitemap 0.9 protocol. How can this new standard help you to improve the ranking of your web site in search engines?
What are sitemaps and what is the Sitemaps protocol?
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
- how important it is, relative to other URLs in the site
This helps search engines to more intelligently crawl your site.
The Sitemaps 0.9 protocol is a new standard that will make it easier to create a sitemap that can be parsed by all search engines.
How can you benefit from this new standard?
Web crawlers usually discover pages from links within the site and from other sites. Sitemaps supplement this data to allow crawlers that support sitemaps to pick up all URLs in the sitemap and learn about those URLs using the associated metadata.
The sitemap allows you to inform search engines about the pages on your web site. Depending on how your web site is structured, it can be easier for search engines to find all of your web pages if you use a sitemap.
Does using the Sitemaps 0.9 protocol improve your search engine rankings?
Using the Sitemap protocol does not guarantee that your web pages are included in search engines, but provides hints for web crawlers to do a better job of crawling your site.
A sitemap helps search engines to find your web pages but it does not help you to get higher search engine rankings. High rankings on search engines are the result of good inbound links and optimized web page content.
If your web pages have both, then search engines will give them high rankings.
The new sitemaps protocol can help you to inform search engines about your web pages. Further information about the new sitemaps standard can be found on the official sitemaps web site.