Google, Yahoo, MSN and Now Ask.com Offer Auto-Discovery for Sitemaps

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There is some great news in the SEO world that will change the way webmaster process and submit Sitemaps to Google, Yahoo!, MSN and the newest member Ask.com. The four search players announced, that there is a new way to let the search engines know about your Sitemap file. The new process is being referred to as the "Auto-Discovery" of Sitemaps.

How to specify the Sitemap location in your robots.txt file

You can specify the location of the Sitemap using a robots.txt file. To do this, simply add the following line:

Sitemap:

The should be the complete URL to the Sitemap, such as: http://www.example.com/sitemap.xml

Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Ask. The following is a short snippet from their statements.

Google states, "Second, it's now easier for you to tell us where your Sitemaps live. We wondered if we could make it so easy that you wouldn't even have to tell us and every other search engine that supports Sitemaps. But how? Well, every website can have a robots.txt file in a standard location, so we decided to let you tell us about your Sitemap in the robots.txt file."

Yahoo states, "Please provide the complete URL for your Sitemap on this line. We will pick it up wherever you put it in your robots.txt file. This directive is not specific to user-agent. If you have multiple Sitemaps, you can point to your Sitemap index file on this line. Details about the Sitemaps protocol including this addition are available on the protocol website -- http://www.sitemaps.org."

MSN states, "Although we aren't ready to start consuming sitemaps quite yet, I encourage you to build a sitemap and add the "sitemap" directive to your robots.txt. As soon as we roll out support (before the end of the year), we will be able to start crawling your sitemap files immediately. If you want more detail on the sitemaps protocol, including auto-discovery, check out www.sitemaps.org."

Ask.com states, "In addition, Ask.com is now supporting submission of Sitemaps via ask.com Of course, neither auto-discovery nor manual submission guarantee pages will be added to the index. The pages must meet our quality criteria for inclusion in the index. And use of these submission methods does not influence ranking."

Of course, I still think it's extremely useful to submit your Sitemap through Google Webmaster tools and Yahoo Site Explorer so you can make sure that the Sitemap was processed without any issues and you can get additional statistics about your site. Will MSN and Ask.com be creating a similar type of Sitemap submission section so you can track and view more detailed statistics about your website? Only time will tell!

Daryl H. Bryant is President and Chief Executive Officer of Hudson Horizons, helps his clients achieve online success through search engine marketing and customized website solutions.

 

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