Thursday, April 8, 2010

Adding Images to your Sitemaps

Sitemaps are an invaluable resource for search engines. They can highlight the important content on a site and allow crawlers to quickly discover it. Images are an important element of many sites and search engines could equally benefit from knowing which images you consider important. This is particularly true for images that are only accessible via JavaScript forms, or for pages that contain many images but only some of which are integral to the page content.

Now you can use a Sitemaps extension to provide Google with exactly this information. For each URL you list in your Sitemap, you can add additional information about important images that exist on that page. You don’t need to create a new Sitemap, you can just add information on images to the Sitemap you already use.

With image search, just as with web search, Google's goal is to provide the best and most relevant search results to our users. Following Google's Webmaster Guidelines and best practices for publishing images can increase the likelihood that your images will be returned in those search results.

In addition, you can also use Sitemaps to give Google additional information about the images on your site's URLs. Doing this can help Google discover images we might not otherwise find (such as images that are reached via JavaScript forms), and also enables you to identify the most important images on a page. For example, if your site uses templates,
every page might feature a boilerplate image. By not listing this image in your Sitemap, you're telling Google that it's less important than the images you have included. However, Google doesn't guarantee that we'll index all of your images or use all of the information in your Sitemap.

To give Google information about images on your site, you'll need to begin by creating a standard web Sitemap. (You can also update an existing Sitemap.)

For each URL you list in your Sitemap, add additional information about important images on that page. The following example shows a Sitemap entry for the URL, which contains two images. (You can list up to 1,000 images for each page.)

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<urlset xmlns=""

Image tag definitions
After you’ve submitted your Sitemap, it’s best to wait up to 5 days to make sure there’s been enough time to index it.

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