A number of news organisations and publishers have expressed concern over how their websites are listed by search engines, it has emerged.

According to the Associated Press, the group has put plans into place to increase the level of flexibility in restricting access and listing individual pages.

It is reported that the indexing software, robot.txt, could be altered to include Automated Content Access Protocol (ACAP), which would allow press companies and publishers greater control over their online content and how it is accessed and used.

Google spokeswoman Jessica Powell said the search engine would support such a move but added that they would be keen to evaluate ACAP to ensure it would be beneficial to all industry sectors and their online presence.

"Before you go and take something entirely on board, you need to make sure it works for everyone," she said.

Commenting on the news, search expert and editor in chief of Search Engine Land, Danny Sullivan, said the robots.txt software was "long overdue for some improvements".

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