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Facebook has around 1B user profiles. They can be found by searching in Google. However, I don't think these profiles are linked from anywhere, so how could Google discover them?

As far as I know, sitemaps are not enough for that (http://webmasters.stackexchange.com/a/5151), as all URLs should be crawlable anyway.

I ask the question as I also have a site with user profiles and would like to make them discoverable.

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xml sitemaps are more than enough to get pages indexed. I see this all the time where I know pages aren't linked on a site (and have never been linked), but are in the sitemap.xml and are indexed in Google. However, I don't know if Facebook use xml sitemaps. I had a look at the usual sitemap address and looked in Google's index but couldn't find any. –  Max Jul 31 '13 at 9:08
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In fact in the answer you linked to, they mention URLs can be indexed alone from xml sitemaps: "Discovering new and updated content (I guess this is the obvious one, and yes, we do pick up and index otherwise unlinked URLs from there too)" –  Max Jul 31 '13 at 9:21
    
But in the link they also say "The Sitemap file isn't meant to "fix" crawlability issues. If your site can't be crawled, fix that first." –  Jose Jul 31 '13 at 10:14
    
Yes, I wasn't saying it's necessarily correct just having them linked in the sitemap, I was just pointing out they can be indexed that way and that Google say they can too. –  Max Aug 3 '13 at 11:48

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Contrary to what you suggest, profiles are linked to. Go to the Facebook homepage. At the bottom, you can see links to "People", "Pages", "Places", "Apps" and more. If you click on "People", you can see a full directory that's crawlable. As the disclaimer on that page notes, "This only includes people who have Public Search Listings available on Facebook."

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Go to: facebook.com/settings?tab=privacy

In the last option: Who can look me up?

You can see: Do you want other search engines to link to your timeline? Image:

Do you want other search engines to link to your timeline

Facebook profiles can be Google-searchable just if you are +18 Image:

profiles can be Google-searchable just if you are +18

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I think he was asking how Google actually finds the URLs on the site. –  Max Aug 3 '13 at 11:49
    
When you see the code we will know But clearly he scan each link finds, And excludes those who do not want the search engines to visit the their profiles.I also did not see Facebook enters Groups. –  Abdelraouf Adjal Aug 3 '13 at 19:34

If you think of all of the web sites where you can connect your Facebook account, that also have public profiles (think forums etc.). Many of these will link to the user's Facebook account, so Googlebot can crawl these simply by following links. There are also people like me who link to my Facebook profile from my own web site.

And then, if you visit a Facebook profile whilst logged out, you'll see that it links to other profiles. So Google should be able to crawl large parts of Facebook like it would any other web site.

As noted in one of the other responses, you can opt out of having your profile indexed if you so wish, but it's on by default (I think) for those aged 18+.

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