Addicted to novelty since 2001

Google Sitemaps

As reported about two hours ago on Slashdot, Google has launched Google Sitemaps. Apparently, Google’s looking for some help spidering your site:

Google Sitemaps is an easy way for you to help improve your coverage in the Google index. It’s a collaborative crawling system that enables you to communicate directly with Google to keep us informed of all your web pages, and when you make changes to these pages.

Basically, you submit a simple XML file to Google, so that it has a better grip on the structure and scope of your site. Sounds like a great idea.

I see an execution gap here, though. is, what, 2600 pages? I’m obviously not going to build that XML file manually (with one node for each page). Google does provide a Sitemap Generator, but it’s Python code meant to be run on my web server. My Python skills are nil, so that route isn’t viable for me either. I expect that there’s a good many ‘webmasters’ (as in, people who design and run websites) who don’t know Python from perl.

This gap may be temporary, though, because Google Sitemaps has been released under the Attribution/Share Alike Creative Commons license. Maybe somebody will grab the code and build an idiot-proof solution for the Sitemap Generator.

UPDATE: I meant to also mention that there’s an interview with Shiva Shivakumar, engineering director and the technical lead for Google Sitemaps.

3 Responses to “Google Sitemaps”

  1. Chris

    It looks like you don’t actually need to know python to use their script. Browsing through their FAQ, it looks like you just download it and run it. There’s even a troubleshooting guide.

    People who run sites might not know how to program, but somebody set up their apache configs and such, so there should be someone around with at least a little bit of know-how (for installing python, if necessary, etc.). This program is meant to help webmasters, so I don’t think requiring webmasters to get their hands a little dirty is too much to ask.

  2. Darren

    Chris: Fair enough, though I’m rather uncomfortable with the “running scripts” part of “should have knowledge of uploading files to their webserver, connecting to their webserver, and running scripts”.

    For most websites, the web owner doesn’t know who set up Apache, because they’re shared resources on ISP machines. As such, they’re going to be sites for individuals or small businesses, where folks are unlikely to have the necessary skills, and the ISP is unlikely to want to help (at least, not without getting paid).

    In truth, the program isn’t meant to help webmasters, it’s meant to help site owners by making their sites easier to find. In many cases (and every company I’ve worked in), webmasters aren’t the ones interested in more traffic–it’s the site owner or marketing department.

    Maybe we’re using the term ‘webmaster’ differently…

  3. Chris

    Yeah, I was playing fast and loose with the term webmaster. What I meant was that google isn’t necessarily doing this just for themselves, but instead providing this tool to help [title of some person who has a vested interest in getting better google traffic].

    Maybe you could take this opportunity to learn a little bit more about computers. I’m not saying that you don’t know a lot now, just that it never hurts to know more. A little command line experience is good for the soul :)

    Running a script is pretty easy. Usually it just involves just typing the name of the script and hitting enter :)

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