Friday, 28 April 2006

Google sitemaps: verify Blogspot blogs - howto






Finally, it's now possible for Blogger users to verify Blogspot blogs on Google Sitemaps (see the Sitemaps blog post yesterday, plus Saffa Dude's comment also pointing that out).

It's not only Blogspot members who benefit - if you use some other blogging platform which doesn't let you upload files to your blog host's servers, but does let you tinker with your blog template (specifically the head section of your blog's webpages), now you can verify your blog too.
For those who don't know: what's Google Sitemaps, and why would you want to verify your blog? In summary, you'd want to add your blog to Sitemaps and verify it in order that:
  • your blog gets indexed better by Google, so that people will hopefully be more likely to find your blog's webpages when they search on Google;
  • when you update your blog, e.g. write a new post, you can ping Google, i.e. get Google to come and re-crawl your blog very quickly, so that people who search Google will find the most current information about your blog; and
  • you can get more info about how Google indexes your blog, and maybe tweak it to improve the likelihood of people finding your blog in future when searching on Google.

How to submit your blog sitemap, and verification

I've already explained briefly and in more detail how to submit your blog sitemap to Google (including why it's important to make your feed file as full as possible for that purpose - you can still offer your readers or subscribers headlines or excerpts-only feeds, if you wish).

Previously we mere Blogger users, and others who don't have permission to upload files to their blog host server's root, were deprived of the ability to verify our blogs on Sitemaps, which I for one thought was ludicrous given that Google own Blogger (and I kept saying so).

Clearly I wasn't the only one - finally, in February, Google asked for views on whether people wanted to be able to verify their blogs or sites in other ways, and as mentioned in the Sitemaps blog post yesterday, the response was overwhelmingly "YES!!"

So now they've provided a way to verify your blog via a meta tag.

How to verify your blog on Sitemaps

Google have provided instructions on how to verify your blog or site. Here's a step by step (this assumes you've already (1) signed up with Google Sitemaps as per my previous post; and (2) for Add Site, entered the URL of your blog e.g. http://consumingexperience.blogspot.com in my case):

1. Login to Sitemaps.

2. Against the name of the blog or site you want to verify, under the Site Verified? column, click the Verify link:

3. You get a new page. In the Choose verification method dropdown, pick Add a META Tag:

4. A box appears under the dropdown, with some code in it, it looks something like this (I've airbrushed out the one for my blog!):

5. Copy that code from <META all the way to /> (be careful not to copy the box instead of the text inside the box).

6. Go to your blog template (it's easiest to do this in a new browser window or browser tab) and paste that code between your head tags - Google have given an example (opens in new window) showing how and where to put it. Save the template changes, and republish your blog.

7. Now go back to Google Sitemaps and tick the checkbox against "I have added the META tag to the home page of [your blog name]" (which is just under the box with the new code, see the pic above), and then click the Verify button.

That's it. It worked to verify my blog nearly instantly.

What do you get with verification?

Now, whenever you login to Sitemaps, you'll get 3 tabs:
  • Diagnostics
  • Statistics and
  • Sitemaps.
The first two are the new ones you get after verification.

Statistics is I think the most useful. It gives you access to Google stats about your blog, like query stats (which tell you what visitors were looking for, what words they searched on when they came to your site via Google, so that you can tweak your blog content to try to improve your blog's ranking on Google), crawl stats, page analysis and index stats.

Here for example are my recent query stats - not quite full-fledged web analytics, but useful given that Google searches can be a prime source of referrals to your blog (certainly for my own blog, I'd say 90% of my visitors come via Google):

Crawl stats can also be useful:

For example, HTTP Errors, Unreachable URLs, URLs timed out and URLS not followed can give you info on problem pages on your site, e.g. pages "that [Google] tried to crawl (found either through links from your Sitemaps or from other pages) but could not access. If these pages are listed in your Sitemap or linked from your site, make sure that the URLs are correct" - in other words, this can help you spot and fix broken links to your own pages from within your own blog (yes, an easy enough to make a mistake sometimes!). (You can also reach the detailed crawl stats info from the Diagnostics tab.)

There's more info about all this in Google's revamped Webmaster help centre (and - updated 6 and 10 May - Google have also now provided more guidance and answered some common questions about the new meta tag and Blogger's own blog Buzz has also highlighted this new feature). Happy verifying, stats checking and blog tweaking!

25 comments:

kirk said...

Well they kept us waiting long enough, didn't they? ;-)

Glad they finally did it. Now I have to find out if those stats are really worth it. Gonna have to go back and brush up on all the things you've written about Google sitemaps before.

John said...

Yay, at last! :-)

Sereena X said...

I didn't have time to read all the instructions, so maybe I did something wrong-- my blog feed URL (the atom feed, as in Imp's example) wasn't accepted. "You have entered a URL to a file. Please enter the site URL." Also, I'm not sure where the actual Google ping page is located. Is it the one that says "Sitemap Notification Received. Your Sitemap has been successfully added to our list of Sitemaps to crawl."? If so, that's really awkward wording for a ping destination.

Imp, I have your blog on my Technorati favorites. Thanks for continuing to provide an extremely user-friendly resource!

Improbulus said...

Kirk & John, yeah they kept us waiting long enough!

Sereena X, when you first sign in you give them your usual blog URL. For your sitemap, you give them your feed URL. I've updated both my short and longer posts on Sitemaps for the different way that Google now deal with submitting sitemaps and verification, hope that's now clearer. Glad you find the blog useful!

Sereena X said...

It worked this time. The feature was unavailable when I tried it yesterday, but currently the sitemap status is pending.

Thanks again!

John said...

Imp,

Google appeared to be suffering from procrastination for a while!

Followed your superlative advice and am using the original atom feed for blog sitemaps too.

Improbulus said...

Sereena & John, glad it's now worked for you - now let's hope the extra stats info is worth it!

Anonymous said...

great blog
check out my site:
http://www.webmasterspy.com/

Stupid said...

I use
http://stupid-ideas.blogspot.com/rss.xml
instead of
http://stupid-ideas.blogspot.com/atom.xml
Is that ok ?

Improbulus said...

Stupid, yes that's fine, Blogger have provided rss.xml feeds for a while now as Kirk pointed out.

Brendan said...

I am sorry this doesn't pertain to your post. From what I have recently learned, you can link as many different blogspot blogs together, it only strengthens the ranking of each blog involved in linking. I have noticed this with all of the pioneers and top bloggers. I was wondering if you wanted me to link to all of your blogs, in return, for the same with mine. bpe189@gmail.com

Stephen said...

It is 2007 and blogger now has no template with a head-body area to paste the meta into -- so what does one do? I will try entering the feed urls. Thanks, S

Improbulus said...

Brendan, for various reasons I don't do link exchanges generally, but I will link to specific posts in other blogs which are relevant to something I'm posting about.

Stephen, you should still be able to do that in New Blogger. Go to your Settings, Template, click Edit HTML (not the Page Elements tab). You'll see that there's still a head section there in the Edit Template box. Just paste the required meta tag code just before the </head> tag.

Hayden Tennent said...

Thank you for the wonderful article. I was immediately able to verify my site with your instructions!

Abhidon said...

Thanks for this post .I thought that this verification by meta tahg is the one way and the sitemap is different...thanks for clearing the doubt...
I have made a blog ....
http://formula1track.blogspot.com
please see it and reply if it meets the demands as you are a specialist in thias field

Improbulus said...

Hayden, thanks for your comment, glad it worked!

Abhidon, to make sure it works just login to Google Webmaster Tools and against your blog it should said "Verified" if it worked. No one but you and Google can check that. Plus if it worked then you'll be able to see the more detailed stats mentioned in my post.

Ichank said...

Yes.. it is work at my blog. Thanks.

Moni said...

hi. thanks for all your good info. but i can't seem to figure out how to paste the google meta tag into my blogger site. it says: error. title cannot be accepted.
what am i doing wrong?
my url is: evilreporterchick.blogspot.com/
it is 10 months old and it does not show up on a google search. please help!

sunar said...

Thank you for your article. I'm still don't know how to repair URLs restricted by robots.txt errors in my blog.

my blog is:
http://optimiscally.blogspot.com
Please give me some suggest

Hayden Tennent said...

Sunar,

If you are using the Blogger service, hosted on Googles servers, you do not have any control over the robots.txt file and hence can not modify it.

The robots.txt file that Google places on blogs actually prevents the indexing of some blogger components that you wouldn't want indexed anyway.

If you want complete control over robots.txt you will need to host on a server where you have full access.

Improbulus said...

Hayden, thanks for responding to Sunar!

Moni and others, for specific problems on your particular blog I'd suggest trying the Blogger Help Group. Sorry for the delay in replying.

Nikhil Kumar said...

thanks a lot friend!! it helped me a lot

Aravind said...

Thank you so much Impro, I was searching for this kinda post. Thanks again.

lee said...

my blog www.diyanswerdirect.com/blog hasnt been indexed for two weeks and my site www.diyanswerdirect.com has been indexed but never gets updated. Is there anyone who can tell me when google or bing updates there search engines please thankyou lee help

your live blog said...

Right said Sumar,

I have blog at blogspot. I have checked robots.txt , blogger has not allowed all sites for indexing.

My site didnt indexed in Google Search Engine yet.