A few weeks ago, Yahoo announced its support of wildcards in robots.txt.  This week, Google, Yahoo, and MSN all agreed on a standard for sitemaps.  I don't think this a coincidence of events.  Rather, I believe it is an indication of a trend — that search engine vendors see a value in collaborating on certain issues.  Other similar examples that come to mind are NavTeQ and TeleAtlas's agreement to use a standard protocol for traffic information in navigation systems.  It's just a win-win situation for everyone.

The standard looks a lot like Google's XML-based standard.  This does not surprise me, as the Yahoo! standard was much simpler and lacked some useful features provided by Google.  Microsoft previously did not have a standard.

Microsoft says it will be implemented by 2007.  Yahoo!, and of course Google, already have it implemented.

What does this mean for you?  Less work and potentially better spidering.  What does this mean for me?

I need to update my seo book now :(

You can see the standard over here: http://www.sitemaps.org/.

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