Website owners are being offered the opportunity to have content changes indexed instantly in search engines through the use of the new IndexNow initiative.

Launched in partnership between Microsoft and Yandex (a Russian search engine), IndexNow is an open-source protocol that aims to make it possible for content creators to submit new and updated content to search engines immediately.

A more efficient internet

Microsoft says that the initiative is being driven by a desire to create a more efficient internet. The nature of the initiative means that participating search engines will have less need to carry out so-called ‘exploratory crawling’ in order to discover new content online.

When submitting a new or updated piece of content, webmasters will only be required to submit to a single participating search engine and all other partners will receive the same update.

Microsoft says that sharing of submissions will begin in November 2021.

Moving from pull to push

Prior to the launch of IndexNow, search engine content discovery relied on a ‘pull’ method of discovery typically involving a search engine crawler to visit websites and discover new pages and content as well as update edited and deleted content.

The launch of IndexNow means that Microsoft and Yandex are driving a move towards a ‘push’ method where publishers are invited to automatically submit content changes, therefore reducing the reliance on search engine crawlers.

Environmental gains

Aside from making search engine indexing much more efficient, the move also presents potentially significant gains in data processing efficiency.

With content updates being sent directly to search engines, unnecessary web crawling sessions will be limited and the load on web servers will be greatly reduced. This will deliver a reduction in the energy usage associated with web crawling and the load it puts onto web servers.

Microsoft has said that integration will be simple and as it stands a number of methods have been suggested to content owners, including:

  • Integrating via SEO tools (current named partners include OnCrawl and Botify)
  • Direct submission via an API will be possible
  • Microsoft is encouraging all CMSs to adopt the protocol

So far, Microsoft’s Bing and Yandex are confirmed partners however it remains to be seen whether Google will adopt this new standard.