Whenever a sitemap changes it’s important to notify Google and Bing of the change by pinging <searchengine_URL>ping?sitemap=sitemap_url . Whilst these URLs are meant for bots, they do return an actual html page. When you look at Google’s responses though, you’ll notice four interesting facts:
1. Google is Tracking Views of the Page
For reference, that UA-code appears to be a property within the same account as Google’s Search Console, but not part of the actual Google Search Console property (UA-1800-36).
2. Google.com still refers to Webmaster Tools
If you load up google.com/ping?sitemap=example.com you’ll find that the page’s title is:
Yet, if you load up any other English-language TLD for the same page (e.g. google.co.uk/ping?sitemap=example.com ) you’ll see this:
3. Google shows a different response for different languages
If you load up non-English Google TLDs you start to see that Google’s taken the time to translate the text into the primary language that TLD targets. For example, here’s the response on google.fr:
and here’s the response on google.de:
Each language gets its own translation of the text…. except for google.es:
I guess the google.es sitemap country-manager was out the day they wrote the translations! In any case, it’s surprising that they bothered to create all these translations for a page that, I would imagine, is very rarely seen by a human.
4. Google makes the weirdest grammar change
If you load up the the .co.uk, .ie, .co.za or any ‘international’ English version of Google’s sitemap ping URL you’ll find this message:
(we’ve added the highlighting)
If, however, you load up the .com you receive this:
The ‘that’ in the second sentence disappears.
Why would Google do any of these things? Maybe it just doesn’t care about updating these. Maybe all of the international English-language versions share a single ‘international English’ text and, when someone last updated it, they forgot to update the .com version. Here’s the more interesting question, though. If the ping URL’s frontend is different for each Google TLD, then, does that mean the backend could be different – maybe feeding into their different indexes? Does which Google you ping make any difference? Should you be pinging your ‘local’ Google rather than just the .com?
We pinged our test site about 40 times from various TLDs to see, through our log files, if Google was visiting from different IP addresses when you pinged from a different TLD. It wasn’t. Next, we reached out to John Mueller to see what he had to say:
I’d use the officially documented ping URL. Others might work, or might not — the documented one is the one we officially support.
– John (@JohnMu) May 2, 2019
…and now you know.