Sitemaps ping endpoint is going away

Monday, June 26, 2023

The Sitemaps Protocol was introduced in 2005 to help search engines with the discovery of new URLs, and also to help with scheduling new crawls of already discovered URLs. It's a wildly popular protocol that hasn't changed for over 15 years. While the general idea is still useful, some aspects have become less practical in today's internet.

To that end, we're announcing deprecation of the sitemaps "ping" endpoint and providing additional recommendations for the use of the lastmod element.

Sitemap ping

The sitemap protocol defines an unauthenticated REST method for submitting sitemaps to search engines. 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. To wit, we're deprecating our support for sitemaps ping and the endpoint will stop functioning in 6 months. You can still submit your sitemaps through robots.txt and Search Console, but the HTTP requests ("pings") to the deprecated REST endpoint will result in a 404 error. Any existing code or plugins which use this endpoint will not cause problems for Google Search; you don't need to make any changes (but using the endpoint will also not do anything useful).

The lastmod element

Over the years we've observed a varying level of usefulness of the lastmod element across the sites that provide it. This may have been the result of the kind of content that's published, or perhaps the content management system, but nowadays lastmod is indeed us