IndexNow: What is it and what is it used for?

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One of the most important aspects of SEO is making sure that your content is crawled and indexed by search engines. In fact, without your content being indexed, your website cannot generate traffic from search at all. But indexing is not always a quick process. There are many factors that affect how quickly search engines will index your website. What if there was a way to get your content indexed faster? Well, this is where IndexNow comes in.

The importance of the index now for SEO

Before people can search for your content, search engines must crawl and index your web pages. After your content has been indexed, the ranking process begins. Search engines start by sending crawlers to follow links to discover new content (and update old content). After crawlers discover a page, they report to search engines what they found and index them. While indexing, search engines read and analyze the content, media, tags, and more on that page. Search engines store all of this information in a large database called the index.

Why do we need IndexNow?

In today’s competitive internet environment, indexing your content is crucial to ensuring a high search engine ranking. The faster your content gets indexed, the more likely it is to appear correctly in SERPs. Of course, you need premium content to rank, but that’s another story.

But here’s the catch: You can’t control how quickly search engines index your website. It may take days or weeks for the search engine to crawl and index your new page. It all depends on many factors like the size of your website, its credibility, complexity, etc.

Imagine that you are the owner of an online clothing store and you have some new arrivals for the upcoming season. You update your store with the latest products, but after two weeks you see the changes in the search engines. In the meantime, you may be losing potential traffic and sales to your competitors. Nobody likes it when that happens. To simplify this process and speed up indexing, Microsoft and Yandex have come together and created a new protocol called IndexNow.

So what is the index now?

IndexNow is an open source protocol that allows web publishers to notify participating search engines of the latest updates to their website. Simply put, this is a simple test to tell search engines that the URL and its contents have been added, updated, or removed. Search engines can then quickly send bots to crawl, index and reflect the changes.

So what is the index now?

What makes IndexNow different?

Search engines obtain index data in two ways: pull and push. Traditionally, search engines visit your site to crawl web pages and index data. Push indexing is done when you or your content management system (CMS) notifies search engines of new changes to specific URLs. The IndexNow protocol follows push indexing, which is different from the traditional “span” model. You don’t have to rely on search engines coming to your website to find new stuff. Instead, you want them to get back to you when you make changes to your content.

Here’s what’s really cool about the IndexNow protocol. When any URL is submitted to a participating search engine through the IndexNow API, those URLs are simultaneously sent to all other search engines using the protocol. And when the IndexNow API is notified about an update, it automatically alerts participating search engines.

What search engines participate in the IndexNow protocol?

Microsoft and Yandex were the first search engines to fully participate in IndexNow. Together, they announced the IndexNow protocol in October 2021. As of June 2022, participating search engines include Microsoft Bing, Yandex, and Ceznam.

Google is not currently part of this initiative, as their crawling mechanism is very efficient and the company continues to improve crawling efficiency. However, Google has confirmed that the company is testing the IndexNow protocol. Therefore, we may see Google join this protocol in the future.

How does IndexNow benefit you?

The IndexNow protocol has the potential to facilitate the evolution of indexing from pull to push. You don’t have to wait for the search engines to come along and pray for the right changes to be made. Instead, you can point them to the actual changes and tell them to crawl and index.

But the main advantage of IndexNow is still the elimination of the time between updates and being discovered by search engines. This means that your content can be indexed faster on all participating search engines. Not to mention, it helps simplify the process of finding new content, making the web more efficient while also reducing power consumption.

Search engines use a lot of energy for crawling activities, but they are not entirely efficient. They may crawl a page several times a day, even when there is nothing new on the page. This is a waste of energy. With the IndexNow protocol, search engine bots do not need to perform a heuristic crawl to determine if a page has been refreshed. This reduces unnecessary website load, reduces power consumption and enables servers to run more efficiently.

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