A man analyzing a Google sitemap on a computer screen.

Google Sitemap Ping Endpoint Discontinuation

Stay informed about the latest changes to Google sitemap ping endpoint discontinuation. Know how this effects your website’s SEO strategy.

The Google Sitemaps Protocol, introduced in 2005, was designed to help search engines discover new URLs and schedule crawls of existing ones. While still useful, certain aspects have become less practical in today’s internet.

To address this, we are announcing the deprecation of the sitemaps “ping” endpoint and providing additional recommendations for using the lastmod element.

Google Sitemap ping

A person using ping endpoint to ensure connectivity with a laptop at home, connected to a Google sitemap.

A person using ping endpoint to ensure connectivity with a laptop at home, connected to a Google sitemap.

The Google sitemap protocol includes an unauthenticated REST method for submitting sitemaps to search engines. However, our internal studies, as well as other search engines like Bing, have shown that these unauthenticated submissions are no longer very helpful. In fact, most submissions to Google Search result in spam.

Therefore, we are deprecating support for sitemaps ping, and the endpoint will cease to function in 6 months. You can still submit your sitemaps through robots.txt and Search Console but pinging the deprecated REST endpoint will result in a 404 error.

Existing code or plugins that use this endpoint will not cause problems for Google Search, but using the endpoint will also not provide any benefits.

The lastmod element

Over the years, we have observed varying levels of usefulness with the lastmod element on sites that provide it. This could be due to the type of content published or the content management system.

Nonetheless, in many cases, the lastmod element is indeed useful, and we use it as a signal for scheduling crawls of previously discovered URLs.

For the lastmod element to be useful, it must be in a supported date format (which is documented on sitemaps.org). If it is not, Search Console will notify you upon submitting your sitemap.

Additionally, the lastmod value must accurately reflect reality. If a page changed 7 years ago but the lastmod element indicates it changed, eventually we will lose trust in the last modified date provided by your pages.

You can include a lastmod element for all pages in your sitemap or only for the ones you are confident about. For example, if your site software cannot easily determine the last modification date of the homepage or a category page because it aggregates other pages, it’s acceptable to omit the lastmod element for those pages.

When referring to “last modification,” we actually mean “last significant modification.” If your CMS only made insignificant changes to the sidebar or footer text, there is no need to update the lastmod value.

However, if you changed the primary text, added or modified structured data, or updated links, do update the lastmod value.

On a side note, the xmlns attribute in the sitemap snippet uses HTTP instead of HTTPS, which is intentional and serves as a reference for parsers regarding the XML elements. Please refrain from providing additional documentation feedback on this matter.

Change frequency and priority
Google does not currently utilize the change freq or priority elements. Change freq overlaps conceptually with lastmod. The priority element is highly subjective and, based on our internal studies, generally does not accurately reflect a page’s priority relative to others on a site.

Should I remove old Sitemaps from Search Console

A man is analyzing a google sitemap diagram on his computer screen.

A man is analyzing a Google sitemap diagram on his computer screen.

Google will eventually stop using a sitemap file. However, deleting the file won’t stop Google from crawling the URLs listed in it. Sitemap files help Google crawl more efficiently, so it’s a good idea to use them.

If you want to learn more about sitemaps, feel free to check out our documentation or visit sitemaps.org. And if you have any questions or just want to chat about sitemaps, we’re here to help!


Source: Google 
Featured images: Freepik 
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