Recently Google quietly stripped off the support for Geo Sitemaps format from the Location Sitemaps, which site owners could submit to Google Webmasters Tools. If you have had KML Files and Geo Sitemaps tags in your Location Sitemap you would have seen the following errors message
“Invalid XML tag”
“This tag was not recognized. Please fix it and resubmit.”
“Parent tag: url Tag: geo”
You were not alone, the error started popping up way back in Feb 2012 and many webmasters noticed the issue in their Google Webmasters Tools Console. Susan Moskwa, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google confirmed to Mike Blumenthal that while Google did drop support for geo-specific information in sitemap files they still allow users to submit KML files. So let us take a look at how its done.
If you are comfortable with creating your own KML files you can skip down to the ” How to fix your existing Location Sitemap ” section below. If you are new to it I highly recommend you read through the entire tutorial. If you don’t care what this actually does , but want to put it on your site then jump over to the ” How can I create a KML File for my Local Business ? ” section.
What are KML Files ?
Keyhole Markup Language (KML) is an XML standard used to represent geographic data in 2D and 3D Maps. The format was conceived by Google for use in its Google Earth software. It will accept various parameters from Name, Address and Phone number to GPS Coordinates. For more detailed look in to it you can head over to KML Documentation page on Google Developers
Why do you need to submit a KML Files ?
Well you submit 2 files a GeoSitemap which tells Google where to find the KML File on your server , which has got the GPS coordinated which will tell Google where exactly your physical address is. Here is a pictorial representation of that same information
There are many way to get this done. I will tell you my favorite way which I think is the easiest. If you guys have an alternate method , please do let me know via the comments section below. I will break it down to step so it’s easier for you guys to follow
- Head over to Geositemapgenerator.com and click on the start button.
- Make sure Manual input is selected and Fill in all the required fields and click on Add Location
- Should you have multiple branches for your business, add all of them by clicking on Add Location
- Once you add all the branches click on Step 2
- Now add the url of your website ( add the www or non www version depending on your setup ) . If your site has multiple subsites and you want each of them to have its own KML File you can do that. Just make sure you add the appropriate locations.kml file to those folders. In most cases you can leave it as the default after adding in your sites url.
- Description for your KML file and Author fields are not compulsory but you can add em in there if you want to, then hit the Generate button. I usually go for the download option , but if you have a lot of locations then you might want to get them to email you when its ready.
- Now you will be presented with 2 files the KML File and a Geo sitemap, download both of them
Now open up geositemap.xml in your favourite text editor and look for
Once you find it delete it. This geo tag is the bit that Google dropped its support for. Now save it and upload both the files to the root of your server. ( Assuming you have not changed the location in Step 5 above. If you have , upload the files to those folder )
Now head over to Google webmasters Tools and add the Sitemap as you normal would and it should work without any error.