Google has launched a new Sitemap protocol and additions to Google webmaster tools for Google News. This is only available to Google News publishers, so it does not pertain to any efforts around the new Sitemaps.org protocol.
Sitemaps are an XML-based open source protocol that enable webmasters to inform search engines about their websites, enhance web crawling efforts by search engines, and deliver better search results to users. Our goal with the additions to webmaster tools and the Google News-specific protocol is to give publishers and news organizations greater control over the content Google crawls for inclusion in Google News, and ultimately provide their online readers with the freshest news stories possible. Here’s how it works:
English-language publishers who are currently included in Google News can now use their existing RSS feeds, or define a more advanced News-specific Sitemap of their current news articles, to tell us exactly which articles our crawlers should look at. While publishers have always been able to govern which portions of their site are crawled and included in Google’s services via robots.txt, this will give publishers more granular control over the process.
We also want to provide news organizations more visibility into which articles are ultimately included in Google News. To that end, we’re providing error reports specific to Google News that will inform webmasters of any problems we experienced crawling or extracting news articles from their pages. Although we try to make our crawl and analysis as comprehensive as possible, there are always a small number of sites and articles we are not able to correctly analyze and include. We hope these new tools will help publishers resolve these issues.