Search engine leader Google will collaborate with Microsoft and Yahoo to provide a single sitemap standard that will go a long way to simply how webmasters publisher their webpages for indexing by the search engines. This is a rare collaborative for the three major search engines which are in direct competition with each other for search and internet advertising services. The sitemap protocol will be based on XML and will be Open Source.
Google created the protocol and has been using it for almost two years. Yahoo will stop using its own sitemap protocol but will continue to support it for an unspecified period of time. MSN will move to the sitemap protocol in early 2007 and will stop using its own protocol immmediately. The three companies plan to work together to update and enhance the XML protocol in the future.
A site map is a file that webmasters and publishers put on their sites to guide the search engines' automated Web crawlers in properly indexing their Web pages.
Site maps are particularly useful in helping search engine spiders index dynamic content. The urls to dynamic content is usally long and search engines have difficultly crawling them. The main benefit for publishers is that they'll get more of their content indexed more rapidly.
The XML sitemaps protocol also provides other information for search engine spiders including when a page was last updated, how frequently it changes and what its importance level relevant to other pages on the site.
Google, Yahoo and Microsoft also plan to encourage other search engines to support the protocol.