Search engine optimization is an evolving field that changes with technological growth. Earlier days, it was sufficient to have meta description and meta keywords to inform search engine crawlers about the content on your page. Nowadays search engines are smart enough to understand the context by grasping the content on any page without additional inputs. However, one of the unattended problems is the time taken for crawling and discovering a page after publishing or modifying the content. IndexNow is the API solution from Bing trying to solve that problem. In this article, we will explore what is Bing IndexNow and how to submit your WordPress site to search engines using this latest technology.
Current Setup – Site Submission Through XML Sitemap
Traditionally website owners submit content to search engines through XML Sitemap. To do that, you need a free webmaster tools account which is called Search Console with Google and Webmaster Tools with other search engines like Bing, Baidu and Yandex. You have to verify the ownership of your site in the account and manually submit XML Sitemap. This Sitemap contains parameters like URL and last modified date of a page and search engines use these parameters to discover the updated content on your site. In addition, you have an option to submit a single page when modified using URL Submission/Inspection tool within your Webmaster Tools account.
The problem with the above approach is that search engine crawlers need some time (at least a day for smaller sites) for crawling your XM Sitemap. Also, many site owners do not have time to submit the content manually when it is updated. This leads to poor discovery of content and long lead time for indexing correct content by search engines. It also works differently based on the content type you publish. For example, a news article published in CNN will instantly show in Google Search results while an article published in your website may need days to show up.
As a result, you may lose traffic to your latest pages and even lose sales if the pages are time relevant.
What is IndexNow?
IndexNow is the technology developed by Microsoft and Yandex to resolve the delay in content discovery by search engines. It eliminates the manual effort and allows website owners to submit their content to one single end point. Interested search engines can pick up the content from the end point. To do this, you do not need to have Webmaster Tools account or verify your site ownership. Though this is exciting, general setup process is complicated as outlined below:
- Generate API key from Bing IndexNow website and download the generated key as a text file.
- Upload the text file in the root of your site.
- Submit newly created and modified pages in required format.
- Check the report in Bing Webmaster Tools account (for this purpose, you still need a registered account)
Use Bing IndexNow in WordPress
Technology can reach users quickly only when they are easily adaptable. Website owners will never implement IndexNow if they have to generate API key and follow the above complicated process. Fortunately, you do not need to worry about that process if you are using WordPress. Bing has a WordPress plugin that you can use for automatically submit new and modified content from your site to IndexNow pool.
Login to your site’s administration panel and go to “Plugins > Add New” section. Type “indexnow” in the search box to find “IndexNow Plugin” and install it on your site. Note that there is another “Index Now” plugin and hence install the correct plugin from Microsoft Bing.
After activating the plugin, go to “Settings > IndexNow” menu from the sidebar. This section will show summary of features offered by the plugin and click on “Let’s Get Started!” button.
IndexNow Plugin Features
There are no special settings you need to use IndexNow plugin with your WordPress site. It automatically generates an API key and host on your site. You can manually submit a page if required or the plugin will automatically submit the newly created and modified pages from your site to IndexNow endpoint. The dashboard will show all submitted URLs (both manual and automatic) and the total submissions that are succeeded and failed.
Manually Submitting Pages to IndexNow
You don’t need to use the manual submission option as the plugin does all the required submissions for you. However, if required click on the “Submit URL” button under “Manual URL submission” section. Enter URL of the page that you want to submit and click on “Submit URL” button. You will see the status of submission instantly under successful or failed submission sections.
This is the most useful part of plugin eliminating the need of manually hosting API key file and URL submission process. By default, automatic URL submission is enabled after you activate the plugin. However, you can check and manage that option by clicking on the three vertical dots icon showing in “Automate URL submission”. After that click on “Edit preference” button that appears.
On the pop-up that appears, you can enable or disable automatic URL submission option. Remember, this is a sitewide setting and affects all newly created and modified content. There are no options in the plugin to enable or disable automatic submission for single post or page.
When the option is enabled, the plugin will automatically submit content to IndexNow end point when you click on “Publish” or “Update” button in the editor. You can check the status under successful or failed submissions section and view all submitted pages under “URLs submitted” section. The list will show maximum of 20 successful and 20 failed URLs.
If you want to resubmit the URL for any reason, simply click the refresh icon showing at the right end of the URL. This will instantly submit your page again and you will see a new line added in the list with the status.
You can also download all submitted URLs as a JSON file for offline analysis.
Note: Rank Math SEO plugin recently introduced a new feature to submit URLs to Bing using IndexNow API. You can submit either automatically or manually depending upon the need.
IndexNow is a big technology change from the traditional approach by making the content discovery as quick as possible. At this point of time Bing and Yandex search engines are using IndexNow. This means all your submitted URLs are instantly available for these search engines for indexing. The advantage is that search engines part of IndexNow program can share URLs among themselves to further reduce the indexing time. Though the major search engine Google does not use this mechanism as of now, it is definitely the way forward.
If not now, it’s in the near future that WordPress site owners do not need to worry about stuffs like Webmaster Tools, site verification and XML Sitemap anymore. IndexNow or any other similar mechanism will make content discovery automatic which can be enabled using a simple plugin.