Semalt: IndexNow And What It Means For Your Google Organic Search Strategy
Up until now, every few months, Google releases an algorithm update, and you closely watch your organic search rankings for any shifts. And things would be fine as long as you don't let your guard down. Then the search engine giant drops a major algorithm update out of the blue, and it wreaks havoc across your rankings. And what if you're an SEO agency across your clients? So begins the damage control by relooking at the strategy, one by one, for each client. Thankfully or not, this is about to change.
With the release of IndexNow, a new indexing protocol that will radically change the way content is indexed by Google and all other search engines, things might get smoother. At the same time, a little trickier as well.
Nothing to worry about, though, as we at Semalt have brought a short primer to you to help understand what IndexNow is and how it will (or should) influence your search marketing strategy in 2022 and beyond.
Let's get straight to it.
What is IndexNow?
On 18 October 2021, Microsoft (which owns Bing) announced the launch of IndexNow, a new, open-source indexing protocol. It was invented as a way to speed up the indexing process, allowing websites to easily notify search engines whenever their website content is created, updated, or deleted. Search engines can choose to sign up for this service via its API and gain updates about content changes on websites. They can then send their bots to these websites, crawl and index the updates, and have the updated content reflected on their search results.
As you can see, IndexNow simplifies and speeds up the indexing process. In other words, it moves from a "pull" system of indexing to a "push" one i.e., instead of the search engine bots visiting websites and pulling content updates (mostly at their whim), the IndexNow API will facilitate a system where websites can push their updates as and when they are available, thus making the whole organic search ecosystem more efficient.
For example, if your client's website is indexed by Bing.com (which uses IndexNow), whenever there is a content change on their website (say, a new blog article or a landing page), IndexNow's API will alert Bing.com about it. Bing.com then only has to send its bots to crawl the website again so as to update its index for that website.
As you can see, there's a catch. IndexNow is only supported by a small section of web giants like Bing.com and Yandex.
IndexNow Needs to Be Adopted Universally for It to Be Effective
According to Microsoft, the digital marketing industry will need to adopt the protocol entirely for it to influence the whole of the world wide web. Since it launched in November 2021, the company says many content management systems (CMSs), content delivery networks (CDNs), and global SEO agencies have adopted IndexNow for indexing purposes.
Semalt has also taken steps to include IndexNow into its SEO strategy for our clients. We take the new protocol into consideration when developing content strategies using CMSs such as WordPress that have already adopted IndexNow. This is one of the many steps we have taken over the past few months to improve the digital marketing services that we provide to our global clientele.
What Changes for SEO and Google?
If your business depends on how IndexNow will influence Google's indexing process and SEO in general, it's still too early to reach a conclusion. But before we get into what Google thinks about it, let's take a brief look at the benefits of IndexNow.
INDEXNOW'S INFLUENCE ON SEO REMAINS TO BE SEEN (NISCONCO / UNSPLASH)
As you can guess, IndexNow's more efficient indexing system offers websites four key advantages:
- A faster way to get indexed regardless of size or volume
- Identical indexing across search engines
- Reduced overall server load
- Reduced energy demands (for the industry as a whole)
It may be a good idea to adopt the IndexNow endpoint along with your routine API pings when setting up a new website. Bing suggests that search engines will focus on only those websites that adopt IndexNow in the future, which says something about the gravity of this evolution.
While the advantages of adopting IndexNow are clear, how soon we will all depend entirely on IndexNow remains to be seen. According to the Search Engine Journal, Google has only started testing IndexNow's capabilities as a protocol for its search ecosystem. It has neither confirmed adoption nor announced an update since November 2021. In its defense, Google obviously has certain reservations about IndexNow adoption.
For starters, Google uses HTTP / 2, a data transfer protocol that's efficient enough for its crawling needs. Adopting a new protocol - especially one that's built by a competitor - may not really excite Google. Not to mention that it could build its own IndexNow protocol and convince the SEO industry to adopt it. There is a higher chance the industry will follow blindly in that case.
GOOGLE'S STANCE ON INDEXNOW WILL BE CRITICAL (BRETT JORDAN / UNSPLASH)
This is why we recommend considering IndexNow from afar. There is no need to scramble and look for ways to get into a system right away that uses the protocol. If your clients use a CMS or CDN that's already adopted IndexNow, very well. Just continue with your strategy.
Make the Right Move with Semalt
Are you still concerned about your website being left out of the IndexNow indexing protocol? Do you feel your clients may change decks if they feel a competitor SEO agency will get their website within IndexNow?
BE ONE STEP AHEAD ON INDEXNOW WITH SEMALT
Do not fret, as we at Semalt can ease your way into the transition. As mentioned above, there is no need to hurry into IndexNow as currently, only Bing and Yandex are using it primarily. So, for starters, we'll wait for Google's cue. Only if and when Google announces IndexNow adoption will there be a need to have an IndexNow strategy in place.
Secondly, if you wish to get started right away, here are some ways to use IndexNow:
- Submit your URL to the IndexNow endpoint.
- Use a CMS like WordPress that's adopted IndexNow
- Submit URLs directly to IndexNow
- Check the official IndexNow documentation
If none of these work for you or you find difficulty executing them, just get in touch with us. Semalt always has a safe solution in SEO matters, as affirmed by our clients around the world.
IndexNow vs Sitemaps
The skepticism in the SEO and digital marketing industry about IndexNow revolves around the idea that IndexNow is a sugarcoated version of sitemaps. Critics of IndexNow suggest that sitemaps - indices of all the pages on a website - already do the job, so why bother?
As a response to that criticism, it is worth noting that sitemaps are crawled by search engine bots irregularly. They are just webpages that are still at the mercy of the bots. Sure, you can mention the ideal time that bots should crawl your URLs, but as you know, the time mentioned is suggestive. Search engine bots may or may not follow that suggestion, and in a worse case, even ignore it.
IndexNow does it better because then websites don't have to wait around for bots to visit their sitemaps. The indexing protocol instead informs the search engines that there has been an update and they should crawl it sooner. This makes indexing faster, thereby providing a better search experience for the end users.
The question then is not to be or not to be. It is about wait-and-watch. In a few months from now, IndexNow will celebrate its first year in the industry. We, as SEO mavens, will be closely watching the developments so that we can better advise you and our clients at large.
If you are an agency, we recommend continuing your existing SEO strategy. For now, the waters don't seem much choppy to be concerned about IndexNow.