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Google Discover Guidelines: Say Goodbye to Sitemap 'Ping' Endpoint

Google, the leading tech giant, has taken a significant step forward to streamline and bolster its sitemap protocol. On June 26, 2023, Google announced its decision to deprecate the sitemap 'ping' endpoint by the end of the year.

The company has also made further recommendations regarding the use of the lastmod element within the sitemap protocol.

Understanding the 'Ping' Endpoint

In an attempt to keep up with the evolving internet landscape, Google is phasing out the 'ping' endpoint of the sitemap protocol. Originally, this endpoint allowed websites to submit unauthenticated sitemap updates to search engines via a REST API method.

However, internal research from Google and other search engines, such as Bing, revealed that these unauthenticated submissions have been significantly less useful over time. Many of these pings, in fact, led to spam submissions.

As a result, the 'ping' endpoint will stop functioning in six months. While the removal won't cause any disruption to Google Search or require any changes on the user's end, using this endpoint won't have any effect after the deprecation.

The Significance of the Lastmod Element

Simultaneously, Google has emphasised the importance of the lastmod element within the sitemap protocol. This element indicates the date when a web page was last significantly modified.

Google now considers this as a crucial signal for scheduling crawls to URLs.

To make the most out of the lastmod element, webmasters need to ensure that:

  • The element follows a supported date format as outlined on sitemaps.org.
  • The date provided accurately reflects the last significant modification made to the web page.

It's important to note that the lastmod element does not need to reflect minor changes, such as a trivial text amendment in the sidebar or footer. Instead, it should be updated when the primary text, structured data, or links are modified.

<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9">
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Ignoring Changefreq and Priority Elements

Google has reconfirmed its stance on the changefreq and priority elements. According to the search giant, these elements don't offer valuable insights and are often misleading.

Changefreq overlaps with lastmod, while priority often fails to represent the true relevance of a page relative to other pages on a site.

Remember, these Google Discover Guidelines are designed to help webmasters effectively navigate the changing SEO landscape.

By paying heed to these instructions, you can ensure your website remains Google-friendly and continues to enjoy better visibility on the internet.

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