Google Deprecating Sitemaps Ping and Recommend Lastmod element

On Monday, Google announced the deprecation of the sitemap “ping” endpoint and offered guidelines for utilizing the lastmod element instead. According to Google’s explanation, the sitemap protocol includes an unauthenticated REST method for submitting sitemaps to search engines. However, internal data reveals that unauthenticated sitemap submissions have proven less effective and valuable.

Google is discontinuing the sitemaps ping endpoint and advising website owners to employ the lastmod element to inform search engines about content updates. Consequently, the practice of directly pinging sitemaps to Google is no longer supported. However, webmasters can still submit their sitemaps via Google Search Console or by adding entries to their robots.txt files. Google is emphasizing the importance of the lastmod element in sitemaps as a key indicator of page updates.

The Sitemaps Protocol, first introduced in 2005, aimed to assist search engines in identifying new URLs and scheduling fresh crawls for previously discovered ones. Despite remaining highly popular, the protocol has remained largely unchanged for over 15 years. Although the fundamental concept remains valuable, certain aspects have become less feasible in today’s internet.

Google has decided to deprecate the “ping” endpoint of sitemaps and has provided further suggestions regarding the utilization of the lastmod element.

Our internal studies—and also other search engines such as Bing—tell us that at this point these unauthenticated sitemap submissions are not very useful. In fact, in the case of Google Search, the vast majority of the submissions lead to spam. – Google

Google has announced that it will no longer support sitemaps ping, and as a result, the endpoint will cease to function in six months. However, it will still be possible to submit sitemaps through robots.txt and Search Console. Any HTTP requests (or “pings”) to the deprecated REST endpoint will return a 404 error.

Google added, “If your CMS changed an insignificant piece of text in the sidebar or footer, you don’t have to update the lastmod value for that page. However if you changed the primary text, added or changed structured data, or updated some links, do update the lastmod value.”

If you have any code or plugins that use this endpoint, it won’t cause any problems for Google Search. Still, it’s not necessary to continue using it as it will no longer provide any useful functionality.

Google plans to deprecate the Sitemaps ping endpoint and recommends that websites use the lastmod date in their Sitemaps file instead. The lastmod date is a field in the Sitemap file that indicates the last time the page was modified. Google uses this information to crawl and index websites more efficiently. Some website owners have been using the Sitemaps ping endpoint to notify Google of changes to their website, but this is not the recommended way to do it. Instead, Google wants website owners to use the lastmod date to keep their website up to date.

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