Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Web publishers often ask us how they can maximize their visibility on the web. Much of this has to do with search engine optimization -- making sure a publisher's content shows up on all the search engines.
However, there are some cases in which publishers need to communicate more information to search engines -- like the fact that they don't want certain content to appear in search results. And for that they use something called the Robots Exclusion Protocol (REP), which lets publishers control how search engines access their site: whether it's controlling the visibility of their content across their site (via robots.txt) or down to a much more granular level for individual pages (via META tags).
Since it was introduced in the early '90s, REP has become the de facto standard by which web publishers specify which parts of their site they want public and which parts they want to keep private. Today, millions of publishers use REP as an easy and efficient way to communicate with search engines. Its strength lies in its flexibility to evolve in parallel with the web, its universal implementation across major search engines and all major robots, and in the way it works for any publisher, no matter how large or small.
While REP is observed by virtually all search engines, we've never come together to detail how we each interpret different tags. Over the last couple of years, we have worked with Microsoft and Yahoo! to bring forward standards such as Sitemaps and offer additional tools for webmasters. Since the original announcement, we have, and will continue to, deliver further improvements based on what we are hearing from the community.
Today, in that same spirit of making the lives of webmasters simpler, we're releasing detailed documentation about how we implement REP. This will provide a common implementation for webmasters and make it easier for any publisher to know how their REP directives will be handled by three major search providers -- making REP more intuitive and friendly to even more publishers on the web.
To see the major REP features currently implemented by Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo!, please see our detailed post on the Webmaster Central blog.