What is IndexNow, and What Does It Mean For SEO? - Herd Digital

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What is IndexNow, and What Does It Mean For SEO?

What is indexnow, indexnow and seo

If you’re an SEO and you haven’t heard about IndexNow then don’t worry. We’re here to tell you all about the biggest revolution in web page indexing since 1993, and why it’s important for you and your website.

What is IndexNow?

IndexNow is a protocol created by Bing in conjunction with Yandex. It allows website owners to ‘ping’ a search engine and notify them that a new page has been created; or that an existing web page has been updated or removed. 

Up until now, search engines have used bots or ‘spiders’ to crawl websites by following internal links and XML sitemaps. This can lead to bots crawling hundreds or thousands of URLs before new or updated pages are crawled and indexed. And all of this means that it can take weeks or even months for new or updated pages to be crawled. 

This is a problem that affects all websites; but to different degrees. For small websites, it can be a nuisance not having your pages indexed as soon as possible.

But it becomes a bigger problem for large websites with lots of URLs to crawl, websites that don’t receive large amounts of steady traffic, and e-commerce websites who can have thousands of products for bots to crawl that change constantly: Having Google show products that you no longer sell or are out of stock is a quick way to lose the trust of potential customers. 

Problems like these are what IndexNow aims to solve.

Is IndexNow important for SEO?

In short, yes. IndexNow is revolutionary for SEO’s, giving them a way to instantaneously have search engines crawl and index new web pages. This eliminates the need to rely on search engine bots to do the work and puts the power in your hands.

Another effect of not having to wait for google to crawl your site is solving the issues of crawl budgets. A ‘crawl budget’ is a term for how many URLs Googlebot, or any other spiders, will crawl on your website in a given time frame. This is again a problem for websites like e-commerce sites, which can have thousands of webpages to crawl.

So not only does it help your health site, it also helps your new blog or webpage be indexed by google. And the faster is appears in SERPs and can challenge for the front page and #1 spot. 

This is huge news for Digital PR. When it comes to trending topics or news, getting your article out first and on SERPs is essential. And the faster you reach the front page, the better for link building. 

IndexNow and Google

One of the biggest obstacles in the widespread adoption of IndexNow is Google. With Google being responsible for over 85% of the world’s search traffic, its initial reluctance to participate in the IndexNow initiative is an obstacle in the efforts for mainstream acceptance.

However, last November a spokesperson at Google announced they are currently testing to see how IndexNow would improve searching:

“We’re encouraged by work to make web crawling more efficient, and we will be testing the potential benefits of this protocol”

Of course, when it comes to changing the way that search engines have worked for the past 30 years, nothing is simple. So we might be waiting a while longer to see some results of this trial or the mainstream acceptance of WordPress.

IndexNow and WordPress

The second most influential entity in the widespread adoption of IndexNow behind Google, would be WordPress. Lead WordPress Developer, Dion Hulse gave his insight into the hesitance to make IndexNow a part of WordPress core:

“I think this should be developed as a plugin first, and then proposed to WordPress core as a feature plugin, to allow development of it to occur separately and then a suggestion to add it to core once feature complete.”

And it seems the developers at WordPress are staying true to their word. As of the time of the writing of this article, there are a few different IndexNow WordPress plugins for you to choose from, but no word of WordPress making it a part of their core services. The most notable plugins being:

  • All in One SEO’s, the claimed “original WordPress SEO Plugin” and the most popular with over 3 million installations. 
  • Rank Math SEO’s plugin, the most highly reviewed plugin available with over 1 million installations.
  • And Microsoft Bing with their own, self developed IndexNow plugin.

While there are some differences, they all follow essentially the same basic principles.

How do I use IndexNow?

IndexNow used to be a much more complicated process. However the release of the WordPress plugins have made it a much more simple and streamlined process. 

Of course you can still do it the old way if you don’t want your site bogged down with more WordPress plugins, and as of the writing of this article not all Content Management Systems support IndexNow. So for those of you, we’ll give you a brief outline of how to use IndexNow:

how to use indexnow in 4 steps
  1. Generate an API Key

An API key proves your ownership of the domain and the URLs you submit to be crawled. So step one is generating one, from an API key generator like Bing’s here. 

  1. Host Your API Key

Next up is hosting your API key on the root directory of your website in a .txt format.

  1. Submit URLs with Parameters

You can either submit your URLs individually as you create web pages, or you can submit them in bulk if you’ve been updating lots of pages at once. Use your key location as a parameter. 

  1. Checking your URL submissions

Finally, you can use the Bing Webmaster Tools portal to verify which URLs have been submitted correctly.

For more information on hosting your API key and submitting URLs, Bing have written a more detailed and in-depth guide here. 

But all that sounds a bit complicated. And with the increasing number of IndexNow plugins for WordPress, having search engines index your URLs got even easier.

How To Use IndexNow with WordPress

We’ll show you how to use Microsoft’s IndexNow plugin, as this doesn’t rely on you already using RankMath’s or All In One SEO’s WordPress plugins. It just takes a few very simple steps:

  1. Navigate to the IndexNow plugin, using the link from earlier or through the WordPress admin panel for your site. Go to ‘Plugins’ and ‘Add New’.
how to find the indexnow wordpress plugin
  1. Install and click on ‘Activate’ to enable the plugin. 
how to activate indexnow on wordpress
  1. Now go to your new IndexNow admin page under ‘Settings’ and ‘IndexNow’.
wordpress plugin settings
  1. Click on Let’s Get Started! to generate your API key and start submitting URLs. From here you can monitor the submission of URLs on your website.
URL submission and api key

And that’s it. IndexNow automatically detects any changes to your content and submits the URLs without you having to do any more work.

So while we all wait and see if Google adopts IndexNow, it’s well worth the time of any SEOs to familiarise themselves with it in the meantime. There are still plenty of benefits to using it now when you consider how search engines work together, how it will affect the future of SEO, and getting ahead of the curve before it goes mainstream 

If you’re an SEO who’s looking for a change in their career we would love to hear from you. You can see are most recent SEO jobs here, or reach out to us for a confidential chat.

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