Thursday, 23 February 2006

Google Sitemaps: verification without uploading file - YES!

[Update: now you can verify just using a meta tag, without uploading any files - see this post]

If like me you use Blogger or another blogging platform which doesn't let you upload any files you like to your blog server (or indeed website), which means you can't get the most out of Google Sitemaps, well Google are at last giving us the chance to have our say.

Google Sitemaps, currently in beta, is a great way to ping Google, i.e. get Google to come and re-index your blog or website whenever you update it, and also to obtain info on related stats. But one problem, which I've sounded off on many a time before, is that if you can't upload files (other than your blog posts) to your blog server, as is the case if you use Google's own Blogspot to host your blog, then you can't access the more detailed and no doubt useful stats that are available to those lucky people who can upload a "verification file". (Here's an intro to Google Sitemaps for those not familiar with it).

It seemed quite incongruous to many of us that Google hadn't built something into Sitemaps to allow people using their own blogging service to access the detailed stats. It's not just Blogger users who are deprived of this info, of course - it's everyone who can't upload files to the root of their blog or website server or who is restricted in what they can names uploaded files.

I guess enough of us have moaned about it loudly enough for long enough that Google are finally taking notice. They've offered via the Google Sitemaps blog to introduce an extra verification option for those of us in this boat, so that you can verify your blog or web site just by inserting some unique code into the head section of your main page (i.e. your blog template, in the case of a blog) - namely a meta tag with a unique string - basically, just a copy/paste job from whatever they'll provide when you're logged in to your Sitemaps account.

But they are asking for feedback on this suggestion - so if you like their solution, or have any issues or problems relating to it, then do post your thoughts on the Sitemaps Google Group thread they've set up for this purpose (you need to register for a Google Account first if you've not already got one, in order to be able to post in that group).

I've just posted there myself, saying I think it's brilliant that they're considering alternative means of verification, but with one necessary precaution they need to build in - as anyone will be able to view source and see what a particular blog or site's verification meta tag is, Google will need to introduce some kind of validation process (which one hopes Google must have thought of already) so that the verification string has to be tied in (pun intended!) to the URL of the webpage containing it, before it is treated as verified. In other words, if someone else copies my verification tag from my blog's main page and sticks it into their own webpage or blog template, that shouldn't give them any control in relation to my sitemap or any access to my sitemap info, because their blog URL wouldn't match up with the encoded string.

So do please go ahead and give Google your comments too by posting in that thread, and if you want to be able to verify your blog for Sitemaps even if you can't upload any files to your blog server, then tell 'em so - and spread the word to encourage others to put in their vote for it too; the more people who say they support this, the more likely it is that Google will implement it.

[Update: now you can verify just using a meta tag, without uploading any files - see this post]

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John Hood said...

Another busy weekend adding meta tags! :0)

buggzee_bunny said...

Your post was very helpful....i was racking my brains since the past 1 hour...trying to find that root location on my blog!!!

Improbulus said...

John, I don't think they've introduced this yet, they just want views on it, so please do say you agree! And I think it's only one meta tag we need to add to our templates, then republish. At least, I hope so.

Buggzee, glad to have been of help.