Google, MSN and Yahoo unify around Google Sitemaps
Unified Google MSN and Yahoo XML Sitemaps
Google are now allowing Yahoo and MSN to use their XML sitemaps. Yahoo and MSN have agreed to accept Google sitemaps as the industry standard, so anyone who has already created a Google sitemap, will now have that sitemap read by Yahoo and MSN, as is the case with all new Google sitemaps created in the future. More information about the unified sitemap protocol can be found at sitemaps.org.
This announcement comes after Google upgraded their existing sitemaps software to version 0.9, which doesn’t appear to have changed much, but it had to be upgraded to allow MSN and Yahoo to read the sitemaps as well.
Other search engines have been invited to use the unified sitemap system, although some, like Ask, are unlikely to take part, as they don’t offer a site submit function at present.
Are Unified Sitemaps a Good Thing?
I think that it’s great that the Big Three, Google, Yahoo and MSN are unifying around standards and I hope it continues. As for XML Sitemaps, I’m still not convinced that they are safe enough to use, without putting your site in jeopardy. I’ll continue to test an XML sitemap every now and again, but as our past tests have caused nothing but hassle for us and our clients, with pages losing their caching, hundreds of pages being moved into the supplemental index, in some cases the site losing it’s place in the index for a period of two to four weeks, spiders slowing down their visits to the sites, etc, etc, I certainly won’t be changing any sitemap strategies in the near future.
I’d advise readers to stick with a text based, HTML sitemap on your site, linked from every page in the site and leave Google, Yahoo and MSN unified sitemaps well alone until we have some data on the effects that they have on rankings and cachings on each search engine.
There will be many differing opinions to mine, particularly from many of the SEO “Gurus” that seem to have nothing better to do with their time all day than to sit on SEO forums and flap their gums in print, but I won’t be risking my clients’ sites by entering unified sitemaps, until I am 100% convinced that they have something to gain from it.