Google’s Sitemap Buzz

Google’s Sitemap Generator is not exactly easy to use, but the potential the Sitemaps program has to reveal important content buried in complex or dynamic architectures is very promising.
After trying to install, configure and run the Google Sitemap Generator my server for a few hours I realized three things: 1. I don’t know anything about Python, 2. running shell scripts is harder than I thought it would be, and 3. Google is really expecting a lot out of your everyday web designer.

I mean, I can follow directions, I even taught myself Perl back in the day but for some reason, I’m missing something. So I added a search my RSS feed aggregator to look for blog posts related to Google’s new Sitemap service and related tool, the Sitemap Generator, which was unveiled just two days ago, hoping it would create enough buzz that better tutorials would surface. Although, there has been a lot of talk (and 23rd World was even quoted – whoopee!), no one seems to have reviewed the generator tool itself.

In fact, the only mention anyone makes of using the generator script (that I could find) were two instances of problems. Fortunately there’s already a PHP script solution for us folks running WordPress blogs and I suppose I could make one the old fashioned way until then. Okay, maybe abbreviated versions. As long as we’re handcoding, stream of conscious offers some good advice:

1) Don’t set your priority really high all the time. Google folks are not stupid. It will penalize you for making everything have a high priority. My advice is set everything at 0.5 and set a few high priority pages as .8, or 1.

2) If you run a dynamic site, then this is really for you — you can make sure that google knows about every page. Even pages that are not linked to.

Just to rephrase the priority thing, Google explicitly states that the priority is only used to compare pages within your site, so if you had them all at 0.5 it would be no different than if they were all at 1.0. It’s is simply an opportunity to create emphasis. This is really a great idea, and I would personally advise people to de-emphasize portal and about pages, placing emphasis on keyword rich pages and blog posts themselves. This program has a lot of potential. You see, Google can see hierarchy in terms of site architecture, but not everyone’s actual important/relevant content is in the top tiers (although, ideally it should be). I can’t wait to get this generator script thing worked out. Please let me know if you’ve had success with it and/or if you could lend a Unix command line novice a hand!

4 thoughts on “Google’s Sitemap Buzz”

  1. Yup.

    My advice is to prioritize indexing based on a few parameters.
    ie. for the drupal module i created, it does one of a number of things:

    a) It changes the priority value based on time of posts. Newer posts have a higher priorty value, older posts have a lower value.

    or

    b) It calculates priority values based on number of page views *that day*. Pages that have alot a views in a single day, are likely to have more comments, or are going to be very valuable to get indexed.

    or

    c) It calculates priority values based on the number of comments. ie. the page with the most comments gets 1.0, with every other page with less comments getting a smaller value greater than zero.

    These simple techniques allow you to ‘push’ up the pages which are likely to be the most value to be indexed.

    cheers and great post!

    jordan willms at stream of conscious
    http://www.jordanwillms.com

  2. Boy, your post makes me wish I was using drupal. I’ve never looked into drupal, looks really slick and my servers just upgraded to PHP5. Hmmm…

    I hope the WordPress plugin utilizes the schema you’ve developed. Due to the my site being pretty new I’d definately go by age, but for major sites with tons of traffic I think the comment weight is a great way to go!

  3. As for the lack of tutorials and explanations from a webmaster’s POV, I hope my article ‘How to make use of Google SiteMaps’ can lead you to a non-Python solution.

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