In SEO, sitemaps submitted to a Search Engine’s Webmaster Tools allow a webmaster to index URL’s on a given site. This allows crawlers to easily identify which URL’s are relevant, in return boosting rankings in SERPs. The traditional sitemap is known as an XML sitemap.
Google now offers News Sitemaps which allow easier discoverability and crawling of timely articles on your site. The benefits are highlighted by Google and are presented below:
- Discover news articles faster: Sitemaps allow Google News to quickly find all of the news articles on a site.
- Crawl and index all news articles: Sitemaps point our crawler directly to each news article’s URL, ensuring full coverage of the content on your site.
- Extract and display article information more accurately: Sitemaps identify the article titles, as well as the publication date for each article.
- Characterize article content more accurately: Sitemaps specify the different types of content in your articles by using <access> and <genres> tags.
- Annotate articles with metadata: Sitemaps clearly identify each article’s content based on specific description such as related keywords or stock tickers. (http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=75717)
So, what are the differences between XML sitemaps and News Sitemaps? One major difference in how frequently News Sitemaps are updated. XML sitemaps are updated a lot less frequently, while News Sitemaps update every time a new story is published (just like any trusted news source). This leads to the next difference. News Sitemaps can only contain the latest articles and links published in the last two days, therefore the sitemap is a lot shorter. XML sitemaps contain a whole site’s list of indexed links and can be quite long. Another relevant difference is the reliance News Sitemaps have on Timestamps. Since news is constantly changing and users rely on timely information, the Timestamps indicates to the Search Engine when the article first appeared on the site.
It should be noted that Google News does not favor the use of News Sitemaps in page rank results, however it is recommended in order to provide relevant and dynamic content to your audience.