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IndexNow Protocol: How It Works and Why It's Important for SEO

Learn about the IndexNow Protocol, a new indexing tool that allows web publishers to notify search engines about website changes using push indexing. Discover how it works and why it's crucial for SEO.
Written by
Josselin Liebe
Published on
March 20, 2023
Updated on
June 16, 2023
Readers rating

Indexing's significance for SEO

Search engines must crawl and index your web pages in order for users to find your information. The scoring procedure starts once your material has been indexed.

Crawlers are first sent out by search engines to investigate hyperlinks in order to find new content and update existing information. Crawlers locate a page, report what they find, and then index it for the search engines. While indexing, search engines look over and assess the page's content, media, tags, and other components. Search engines store each of this information in a huge database known as the "index".

Why IndexNow is needed

In today's competitive internet landscape, indexing your content is crucial to get a high ranking in search engines. Information will rank quicker and display more accurately in the SERPs if it is indexed and ranked more quickly.  Obviously, in order to rank, your material would have to be outstanding, but that is another story.

Nevertheless, you can't control how quickly search engines index your website, and that's the problem.

Until a search engine crawls and indexes your new page, it could be several days or weeks. The size, reputation, complexity, and other characteristics of your website, among other things, all play a role in this.

Think about having some new arrivals for the forthcoming season in your online clothing business. The newest products are added to your website, however, search engine results won't alter until two weeks have passed. In the interim, your rivals can have gained customers and prospective sales from you. Everyone dislikes it when this occurs.

Hence, in an attempt to simplify this process and speed up indexing, Microsoft and Yandex worked together to create a new protocol called IndexNow.

So what exactly is IndexNow ?

Web publishers can inform participating search engines about the most recent modifications to their websites using the open-source protocol known as IndexNow. To alert search engines that a site and its content have been added, modified, or removed is as simple as sending a ping. Search engines may quickly send out bots to crawl, index, and respond to changes once they are performed.

What distinguishes IndexNow from other search engines?

Information about search engine's indexes can be extracted or pushed. Historically, search engines visit your website to "lift" data from the index and crawl web pages.

Push indexing is the process by which you or your CMS alerts search engines to fresh modifications on specific URLs. The IndexNow protocol uses push indexing rather than the more common "pull" approach. You don't have to rely on search engines to find out what's new on your website. Alternatively, you'll ask them to get in touch with each other anytime their content is changed.

But in this situation, the IndexNow protocol really excels. Any URLs you send to a search engine that accepts submissions that used the IndexNow API will also be sent at the same time to every other search engine that is utilizing the protocol. And the IndexNow API will immediately send the involved search engines when you advise it of an upgrade.

The IndexNow protocol is supported by which search engines?

Microsoft and Yandex were the first two search engines to fully take involved in IndexNow. In October 2021, they jointly introduced the IndexNow protocol. As of June 2022, Microsoft Bing, Yandex, and Seznam are included on the list of participating search engines. Because its crawling system is so effective and the firm has worked to make it even more effective, Google now refuses to participate in this endeavor. Google has acknowledged that it will test the IndexNow protocol, nevertheless. So, Google will eventually adopt the protocol.

How is IndexNow put to use?

Process of IndexNow
Process of IndexNow

In essence, the protocol analyses the provided URLs and updates all the search engines via notifications. The promise of IndexNow is that when a URL is submitted using this protocol to a single search engine, not only will that search engine immediately find the link, but so will all of the other collaborating search engines.

The protocol is innovative and enhances the web's general resilience because of the founder of URL findings, which is why it is considered the future of web crawling. Also, it lessens the workload for webmasters and website owners because they only need to submit URLs to this single protocol rather than having to keep up with all the available search engines.

How do you use the IndexNow API?

Before you start utilizing IndexNow or in any other case, you must:

⦁ Create a key that IndexNow will accept.

⦁ The key should be kept at the root of your website in a text file with the key's value and should be included in your query.

⦁ As your URLs are added, modified, or removed, start submitting them.

Where can I find my IndexNow API key?

It's very simple and cost-free to generate a key online. The online key generation tool from Microsoft allows you to create a key that is compatible with the IndexNow protocol.

With the IndexNow API, how do you log in?

By hosting at least one text file on the host, you can "prove" that you own the host for which URLs are being provided. Search engines will crawl the key file after you submit your URLs to them to confirm ownership and utilize the key up until you alter it. The location of your file's key and the key should only be known by you and the search engines.

Hosting a text key file in the host's current directory is the simplest approach to confirm possession.

The root directory of your website must host the UTF-8 encoded text key file " (your-key).text" Hosting a text key file in the root directory of your host is the simplest method for confirming ownership.

Is the amount of URLs that can be submitted subject to any restrictions?

Indeed, you are limited to submitting 10,000 URLs to the IndexNow API in a single request. Use wget, curl, or another method of your choice to send the HTTP request. An HTTP 200 response code indicates that a request was successful; if you obtain a different answer, you should double-check your request, and if everything seems good, resubmit your request. The search engine has only received your list of URLs, according to the HTTP 200 response code.

The suggested approach is to automatically submit URLs up to a certain point after the material is added, changed, or deleted.

Search engine index
Search engine index

What is the process for submitting URLs through IndexNow?

⦁ URLs may be submitted one at a time or in bulk.

⦁ Submitting a single URL

⦁ Send your request to the following URL to submit a URL using an HTTP request (replace with the URL provided by the search engine):  https://<searchengine>/indexnow?url=url-changed&key=your-key

⦁ The phrase "url-changed" refers to a URL on your website that has been added, updated, or removed. Please make sure that your URLs adhere to the RFC-3986 standard for URIs and that they are URL-escaped and encoded.

⦁ Enter the key

⦁ You can use your browser, wget, curl, or any other tool of your choice to send the HTTP request. If your request is successful, you will obtain an HTTP 200 response code. If you do not, check the reason why (see Section re: Response codes) and resend your request. Just that your URL has been sent to the search engine is indicated by the HTTP 200 response code.

What advantages does IndexNow offer you?

The IndexNow protocol might make the switch from pull to push indexing easier. You won't need to wait for search engines to crawl your site and hope they find the appropriate updates. Alternatively, point them in the direction of the actual changes and instruct crawlers and indexers to do it precisely exactly.

Nonetheless, the main advantage of IndexNow remains the reduction of the delay amongst upgrades as well as search engine discovery. Because of this, the indexing of your material by all of the participating search engines will happen more quickly. It just does not mention that it makes locating modern information simpler, improving online efficiency while using less power.

While crawling actions in search engines consume a significant amount of energy, usually are just not particularly effective. Regardless of whether there are no updates to the page, they may crawl it several times daily. Energy is being wasted in this. The IndexNow protocol will eliminate the need for exploratory crawls by search engine bots to ascertain whether a page has been changed. By reducing unnecessary site traffic, reducing energy consumption as well as enhancing site speed.

To sum up

Indexing is a critical aspect of SEO, ensuring web pages are discovered and ranked by search engines. The IndexNow protocol, a collaboration between Microsoft and Yandex, streamlines this process by allowing web publishers to promptly notify search engines of site changes through a push indexing mechanism. The protocol is supported by several major search engines, including Microsoft Bing, Yandex, and Seznam, with Google considering its adoption. IndexNow enhances website efficiency, reduces energy consumption, and accelerates the indexing of content, making it a valuable tool for webmasters seeking quicker and more accurate search engine rankings.

Graph summarizing the advantages of UndexNow Protocol
Graph summarizing the advantages of UndexNow Protocol
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