How important is it to have an accurate, up-to-date sitemap.xml file for search engines?
According to Bing, it is very important.
In today’s Whiteboard Friday at SEOmoz, Duane Forrester of Bing unveiled the idea that Bing has a quality threshold for the sitemap.xml file that a website submits. Duane states that Bing only wants to see “end state URLs” in the sitemap.xml. This declaration provides some insight to those keeping up on their sitemap.xml file.
Do not include URLs of the following nature:
- No 404, 302, 301, etc.
- No rel=”canonical”
This solidifies the importance for your sitemap.xml to be up-to-date and accurate with URL inclusion. Duane didn’t unfold that specifics of what happens to websites with “dirty” sitemap.xml files. He only indicates that a “dirty” sitemap.xml does impact how Bing views your website.
Google has released an extension for its Chrome browser that will allow users to block sites in. With the plugin you can block domains/hosts from appearing in your Google search results.
At this point the plugin doesn’t extending blocking any further than a personal level, but we’d be naive to think that Google won’t be watching this data to assist in further developing their search algorithm. This step towards “edited” content is a page out of the Blekko book of search. Blekko is a new search engine that users human editing to help rank the sites that appear after the search query.
While this is big news, the cat was let out of the bag during the Farsight 2011 conference. Matt Cutts (Google) hinted at this development during his debate with Harry Shum (Bing) about Bing stealing search results from Google.
Does this mean that Google will start using human editing to improve their rankings? I don’t think so. Matt Cutts and those at Google have been pretty adamant about Google continuing on the algorithm path to keep their results impartial and automated. Google will likely use these signals to help improve what their algorithm can do. Matt Cutts recently addressed this thought on Hacker News.
Get the Chrome extension.
At the Bing Search Summit, Microsoft alluded to the impact that social networking websites are having on search results. Although acknowledged in the very early stages of implementation, this assessment is key in the next step in the SEO ‘game’.
Bing is using social annotations, like the Facebook “Like”, to become a ranking factor. In time they see this creating a better personalized search results.
This information is solid proof that you shouldn’t overlook Facebook and the other social networking sites when planning your upcoming marketing efforts. As so many marketers, SEOs, and web developers suggest; ignoring social media will get you left in the cold.