Patent Application on Google’s Sitemaps and Mobile Sitemaps

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The mobile Web is moving towards us quickly, and search engines aren’t ignoring it. Google has been developing some ways to try to make it easier for people to get their sites into Google’s search index with their Google Sitemaps, and they’ve also developed a version of Sitemaps specifically for pages built for mobile devices.

Designers, search marketers, and site owners should be paying attention, too. Having a web site that may work well on smart phones, and on PDAs that can access the internet could provide a competitive advantage.

In December, I wrote a post about How Google Might Decide to Index Your Site for Mobile Search. It was a fairly simple overview of a patent application published by Google which provided some insight into what they might be looking for when deciding whether pages were mobile-friendly enough to be included in the Google Mobile Search index.

A new patent application from Google provides a look inside the processes of Google Sitemaps, and focuses upon the context of their mobile Sitemaps. Here’s a flowchart which shows part of how they work with submitted sitemaps:

Google Mobile Sitemap Flowchart

If you’re interested in getting a some more technical technical knowledge about how Google’s Sitemap process works, you may want to spend some time reading through this patent filing.

Mobile sitemaps
Invented by Alan C. Strohm, Feng Hu, Sascha B. Brawer, Maximilian Ibel, Ralph M. Keller, Narayanan Shivakumar, and Elad Gil
US Patent Application 20070050338
Published March 1, 2007
Filed: May 1, 2006


A method of analyzing documents or relationships between documents includes receiving a notification of an available metadata document containing information about one or more network-accessible documents, obtaining a document format indicator associated with the metadata document, selecting a document crawler using the document format indicator, and crawling at least some of the network-accessible documents using the selected document crawler.

Google Sitemaps are a good way to let the search engine know that you have pages that it may not have found or crawled yet, and may enable the search engine to include those pages in a crawl. Pages on your site that are included in a sitemap, but aren’t accessible through a text based link may still not rank well at all – so Google Sitemaps shouldn’t be considered a replacement for a strong navigational linking system throughout a site.

But if you have pages that are linked together through text-based links that Google just hasn’t found and crawled yet, there may be a benefit to having a sitemap. The patent application tells us:

In some embodiments, information from the sitemaps may be incorporated into the computation of the page importance score.

The title to this patent application may be “Mobile Sitemaps” but the primary focus is on how Google’s Sitemaps work regardless of whether they are for mobile sites or Web sites.

Some Google pages on Mobile Sitemaps:

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4 thoughts on “Patent Application on Google’s Sitemaps and Mobile Sitemaps”

  1. Good post Bill, thanks. One thing I am wondering about is if Google’s PageRank formula is different for the mobile world. I’ve asked them about that but they couldn’t give me any information.

  2. Thanks, Nadir

    I don’t think that there is a difference from Web to Mobile when it comes to PageRank.

    There is some discussion of PageRank in the patent application, but nothing that indicates that it would be used differently. I’m not surprised that they didn’t provide you with an answer, though.

  3. Interesting stuff. I find their use of “Google Sitemaps” to be interesting. It seems to me like it’s primarily a way to save bandwith charges when crawling.

  4. The Google Sitemaps remind me a lot of the Index files that you would create for ALIWeb back in the earlier days of the Web (I never did create one of those – it seemed to complicated at the time.)

    There are a lot of things to like, from the search engine’s perspective with the sitemaps, and bandwidth savings is reason enough by itself to have started doing this.

    Providing error reports to site owners (not really covered in the patent application) was also a very good move, in both getting more people to use the Google Sitemaps and in removing errors and obstacles to crawling and indexing pages. Why not harness the power of concerned site owners to fix issues that might keep pages from being indexed?

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