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Importance of <Lastmod> attribute in Google Sitemap Revisited

     
11:40 pm on Mar 18, 2014 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I haven't submitted my sitemap to Google but have been thinking about doing it recently as Google has not been crawling my site as often and it has taken longer for new content to find itself in the SERPs.

What is the current thinking of how important the lastmod attribute is in the sitemap? One of the main reasons I haven't submitted it before now was because I was worried about Google taking this attribute to literal. The 2 cases I worry about include:

1) My pages and blog posts have comments. The lastmod value for these pages and posts reflects the date that the item was actually last modified and not if any new comments are added (which are on the same page).

2) I also have a fairly active forum for my niche. Forum topics get added to the sitemap and the lastmod gets populate with when the topic was started. Active threads can span a number of months and many pages. I could try to get the forum items in the sitemap to update to the date of the last reply but that reply could be on page 10 and not the start of the topic which is what is included in <loc>.

Should I be worried about the 2 scenarios above? If I set the <changefreq> attribute to daily or weekly should that cover my concerns?

Thanks for any replies.
3:28 pm on Mar 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I'd leave the lastmod off and go with changefreq personally, because IME Google seems to take both into account to some extent when deciding which pages to recrawl when.
9:30 pm on Mar 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Oh I thought lastmod attribute was required. (is there a write up on this... I can't seem to find one by Google)

What is the best way to handle content that is on multiple pages? Should I link just to the first page or have a link to every page?
9:47 pm on Mar 19, 2014 (gmt 0)
10:35 pm on Mar 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

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What is the best way to handle content that is on multiple pages? Should I link just to the first page or have a link to every page?

Missed this -- In your situation, I'd be inclined to put one to every page, but make sure I used rel=prev and rel=next in the <head> of the pages as appropriate -- EG page 1 obviously shouldn't contain a rel=prev since there isn't a previous page in the series -- I might even throw a bit of HTML4 at 'em and use rel=start too, just because [lol]
10:34 am on Mar 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Thanks for the link. I had the sitemaps.org one. I was hoping Google had one saying if they require any of the "optional" attributes.

I don't have rel=prev or rel=next in place. I guess I should work on this as well.

Even if I don't add page 2, 3, ... to the sitemap Google should find them since they are linked from the first page which is in the sitemap or is Google pretty strict and only follows the links in a submitted sitemap? (I don't think they are)
11:26 am on Mar 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Since you mention pagination, take a look at this discussion and also Google's help page and video, which present some pros and cons of various approaches to pagination...

Improving rank by removing pagination - will this work?
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4435282.htm [webmasterworld.com]

The video, also linked in the article, works well in conjunction with the help article. It's a lot to absorb...

Pagination and SEO - Maile Ohye
GoogleWebmasterHelp - YouTube - Mar 8, 2012
TRT 16:36

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njn8uXTWiGg [youtube.com]

I should reemphasize the comment in the thread by wingslevel, that, if these are product pages, you should sort products by sales priority. If a blog, your most recent blog posts are likely to get the most attention, just because they're closer to the top. This is not taking into account the links that individual blog posts might attract.

Note in the sitemaps.org protocol page that JD_Toims links to...

Please note that the priority you assign to a page is not likely to influence the position of your URLs in a search engine's result pages. Search engines may use this information when selecting between URLs on the same site, so you can use this tag to increase the likelihood that your most important pages are present in a search index

In other words, don't depend on xml site maps to boost rankings.
1:24 am on Mar 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Thanks for the links Robert.

My sitemap is generated by a plugin. Looking at the actual sitemap file I see that the items are sorted by type (article, forum post, poll, etc...) and then by date (oldest first). Does it matter how the sitemap is sorted? Most of the content on my site is sorted by date (newest first).

I can specify a priority for each item type in the sitemap (I realize this is just the priority for your own site) and what type can be displayed in the sitemap.

A typical url in my sitemap looks like this:

<url>
<loc>http://www.example.com/article-name</loc>
<changefreq>weekly</changefreq>
<lastmod>2009-05-20</lastmod>
<priority>0.9</priority>
</url>


It sounds like I can remove the lastmod attribute without any issue. I think I will since the lastmod date for most of my items is actually the creation date and not the last modified date. I will leave in the change frequency attribute and the priority attribute. I will also add in the pagnation stuff since it is not possible for me to add in all the pages of a forum topic (I can only add in the first page of any forum topic or article (if it is more than one page))

Any other suggestions?
1:42 am on Mar 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



I was hoping Google had one saying if they require any of the "optional" attributes.

No, they say to just follow the protocol.

You can create a Sitemap based on the Sitemap protocol, or you can submit a text file or RSS/Atom feed as a Sitemap.

--

Google adheres to Sitemap Protocol 0.9 as defined by sitemaps.org. Sitemaps created for Google using Sitemap Protocol 0.9 are therefore compatible with other search engines that adopt the standards of sitemaps.org.

[support.google.com...]
FWIW: I only use a URL and priority in mine and don't have any errors or issues with them, but setting a lastmod and chanfreg lowered the frequency of the crawling of the URLs they were set for.
10:11 pm on Mar 31, 2014 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



A quick pagination question about entities in urls. Google's Pagination page:

[googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.ca...]

Lists a link example that shows "&" not converted to an entity like so:

<link rel="next" href="http://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=2" />

Shouldn't all urls in an html page be using entities like so:

<link rel="next" href="http://www.example.com/article?story=abc&amp;page=2" />

I have used them with style sheets without issue (as far as I know):

<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="http://www.example.com/layout/theme/style.css.php?theme=fun&amp;dir=ltr" media="all" />

Thanks for any clarification
10:18 pm on Mar 31, 2014 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



http://www.sitemaps.org/protocol.html#escaping
12:59 am on Apr 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Right, that is correct for a sitemap. My question was about Pagination (I know it is a little off topic but we did discuss it a little bit :-)

Tom
1:55 am on Apr 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Oh, sorry, just went with the topic -- Better to encode than to not, but browsers and bots are sophisticated enough these days to "get the point" even if you don't, so on a "purely technical level" ?var-1=val-1&amp;var-2=val-2 is better than ?var-1=val-1&var-2=val2, but I haven't seen it make any difference in rankings or usability.
 

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