Tech leaders form joint venture on Internet search standard

Rivals Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft formed an unusual alliance to support a shared standard regarding how Web sites are pinpointed for their indexes, an AFP report said.

The AFP report said the initiative was intended to make it easier for webmasters, or Web site creators, to let Internet search engines know what their online pages contained.

Search engines could use the information gathered in the 'web crawl' process to better tailor results for their users, the AFP report said.

Yahoo and Microsoft announced they would each support Google's 'Sitemaps 0.90' protocol instead of using different standards for submissions by webmasters.

'The launch of Sitemaps is significant because it allows for a single, easy way for Web sites to provide content and metadata to search engines,' Yahoo Search director of product management Tim Mayer was quoted as saying.

'Sitemaps helps webmasters surface content that is typically difficult for crawlers to discover, leading to a more comprehensive search experience for users.'

Google launched its first Sitemaps protocol in June of 2005.

A Sitemap is a Web site file that acts as a marker for search engines to 'crawl' certain pages. It allows webmasters to list their online addresses, called 'URLs,' along with data such as the last time the page was updated, the AFP report further said.