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Understanding Google My Business & Local Search

The time for a “Geo” Sitemap is Now

Yesterday Greg Sterling had an Interview With Google’s Carter Maslan about Mapspam in which Google noted that they are still at the stage of removing mapspam by hand. Also of not was that they will be addressing how to allow non bricks and mortar locations to provide information on their service area (see What Should Google Do About Mapspam? from last year).

Of most interest to me, however, was the clear statement that all websites should have a KML sitemap to clearly indicate to Google the exact locations of your businesses:

SEL: What about a business that formerly appeared among these top 10 listings and no longer does or wants to appear in those listings, what advice would you provide to such businesses?

CM: As a result, there’s no one piece of advice we would recommend beyond providing accurate, well-categorized listings and, for those businesses with web sites, following these tips including location kml in sitemap.

It has been clear that Google has been scouring the web looking for and indexing KML files and it stood to reason that having a KML file associated with your website would give Google clear signals about your physical location.

The time has come for it to be considered a “best practice” to include a Geo Sitemap on any local or regional website. Google clearly wants webmasters to include this indicator of location in a clear and obvious way that allows them to easily confirm geo data. Details on how to create a Geo Sitemap can be found in the Webmaster Help Cetner file: How can I create a Geo Sitemap?

From Google’s Webmaster Help Center:

Google Geo Sitemaps is an extension of the Sitemap protocol that enables you to publish geospatial content (geo content) to Google, in order to make it searchable in Google Earth and on Google Maps.

With Geo Sitemaps, you can tell Googlebot about your geo content, rather than waiting for us to discover it “in the wild”. While we cannot guarantee when or if your geo content will be added to our GeoSearch index, we are continuously working to improve the coverage, freshness and quality of our index.

I am not a coder but when but here is what I see (I stand ready to be advised by someone with more experience than I) in the Google example. Here is a line from a typical sitemap.xml file:


If it were a KML file being referenced in the sitemap file instead of a regular web page, it would look something like this to become a Geo SiteMap:

<url> <loc></loc><priority>0.7</priority>
<geo :geo> </geo>
<geo :format>kml</geo>

The geo sitemap file is telling google that there is a geo indexed file and it is a KML file on the site which contains geo references about the business. It is not a geo reference itself.