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Google removes Sitemaps ping endpoint

June 26th, 2023

First introduced in 2005 the Sitemaps Protocol was intended to help search engines discover and index new URLs on website as well as control crawling schedules for pages already in the index. Although this protocol has remain unchanged for over 15 years Google has announced the deprecation of the ping endpoint.

What is Sitemaps ping endpoint?

The Sitemaps ping endpoint, commonly referred to as the “Google Sitemaps ping URL” or “Sitemap ping submission URL,” is a specific web address provided by Google for webmasters and website owners to notify the search engine about updates to their website’s sitemap files. A sitemap is a file that lists all the URLs or web pages on a website, making it easier for search engines to crawl and index the site’s content.

Why change the protocol now?

Google has stated that internal studies as well as working with other search engines has lead to them making this update. Many of the submissions using this protocol were identified as spam and also many were unauthenticated.

How does this change affect my website?

Manual submission of sitemaps via robots.txt as well as search console are still allowed, any existing code or plugins which automatically ping google will now become obsolete. If you were relying on a plugin or custom code to notify Google of changes to your site, that process will need to be updated.

The New Importance of the lastmod Element in Your Sitemap.xml

Google has state that lastmod is still relevant and is useful in many cases. Your XML sitemap should already have lastmod as a feature, if it does not we can help you to set up a XML sitemap following Googles new guidelines.

What is the lastmod element?

The “lastmod” element in an XML sitemap is used to indicate the last modification date and time of a specific URL listed in the sitemap. This element provides search engines with information about when the content on a particular page was last updated, which can be helpful for search engines to determine how frequently they should crawl and index that page.

Google recommends your sitemap follow this structure:

<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9">
  <url>
      <lastmod>2005-01-01</lastmod>
      <loc>http://www.example.com/</loc>
      <changefreq>monthly</changefreq>
      <priority>0.8</priority>
  </url>
</urlset>

You must ensure that the lastmod element actually represents the last significant modification to that page, if you are using a CMS and updated a minor piece of information such as text in the footer, lastmod should not be updated for that page.

About the changefreq and priority elements

“changefreq” and “priority” are optional elements that can be included in an XML sitemap to provide additional information to search engines about the frequency of content changes and the relative importance of URLs on your website.

Google does not use both the “changefreq” and “priority” elements in XML sitemaps. In particular, “changefreq” is seen as conceptually redundant since it often overlaps with the “lastmod” element, which indicates the last modification date. Additionally, the “priority” element is considered highly subjective and, based on Google’s internal research, does not consistently reflect the true significance of a page in relation to other pages within a website. Google primarily relies on its sophisticated algorithms and various other ranking factors to determine how frequently to crawl pages and their relative importance in search results.

If you need help making sure your website has a proper XML sitemap that is regularly notifying Google of important changes on your site contact our SEO Consulting Company today!

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