The companies are adopting Google's Sitemaps protocol, available since June 2005, which enables Web site owners to manually feed their pages to Google and to check whether their sites have been crawled. Web site owners have had to follow similar processes at each of the other major search engines separately.
Now Web site owners will be able to go to one place for alerting all three major search engines to their Web pages, something they have been requesting for some time, said Tim Mayer, director of product management at Yahoo Search.
"In the first joint and open initiative to improve the Web crawl process for search engines, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft today announced support for Sitemaps 0.90, a free and easy way for Webmasters to notify search engines about their Web sites and be indexed more comprehensively and efficiently, resulting in better representation in search indices," a joint news release said. "For users, Sitemaps enables higher-quality, fresher search results."
The effort was initially started by Google and Yahoo. "We thought it would be great for publishers and Webmasters to be able to submit their content in one format for all the different search engines," Yahoo's Mayer said. "We are proposing the format together and inviting other search engines to adopt it."
The manual Web page submission process supplements traditional Web crawling and does not automatically guarantee that the pages will be included in a search engine's index.
"Windows Live Search is happy to be working with Google and Yahoo on Sitemaps to not only help Webmasters, but also help consumers by delivering more relevant search results so they can find what they're looking for faster," said Ken Moss, general manager of Windows Live Search at Microsoft. "I am sure this will be the first of many industry initiatives you will see us working and collaborating on."