In July 2020, Bing released its first official plugin for WordPress that allowed site owners to submit URLS and get their content indexed immediately, instead of waiting for the search engine to crawl the site. The IndexNow API, which debuted in October 2021, is the next evolution of the Bing URL submissions API, created by Microsoft Bing and Yandex.
Bing Webmasters has released a new IndexNow plugin for WordPress sites to take advantage of this new protocol. It makes it possible for websites to notify participating search engines whenever content is created, updated, or deleted, so that the site is indexed faster for updated search results. The Microsoft Bing Webmaster Tools team anticipates that it will minimize the need for crawling:
IndexNow is an initiative for a more efficient Internet: By telling search engines whether an URL has been changed, website owners provide a clear signal helping search engines to prioritize crawl for these URLs, thereby limiting the need for exploratory crawl to test if the content has changed. In the future, search engines intend to limit crawling of websites adopting IndexNow.
IndexNow is also an initiative for a more open Internet: By notifying one search engine you will notify all search engines that have adopted IndexNow.
The IndexNow WordPress plugin tracks changes in content and automatically submits the URLS in the background. It comes with a few basic features and configuration options:
- Toggle the automatic submission feature.
- Manually submit a URL to IndexNow.
- View list of recent URL submissions from the plugin.
- Retry any failed submissions from the recent submissions list.
- Download recent URL submissions for analysis.
- Status on recent successful and failed submissions
The IndexNow protocol is supported by Microsoft Bing and Yandex. Google is testing the protocol to see if it makes sense for a more sustainable approach to indexing the web.
Bing Principal Program Manager Fabrice Canel proposed WordPress core integrate the IndexNow protocol but contributors suggested Microsoft keep it as a plugin until it’s more widely adopted by major search engines and proves that it has a positive effect on reducing the need for crawling.
“By releasing this plugin, we aim not only to benefit right away WordPress websites adopting it, but also learn, tweak as needed to someday release IndexNow in WordPress core to benefit all websites and all existing and upcoming search engines adopting IndexNow,” Canel said on the ticket.
The IndexNow plugin already has 800 active installs but it’s a long road for Microsoft to prove that its API is effective at streamlining indexing for search engines. If Google agrees to support it after testing, the protocol may gain enough momentum to attract other search engines’ support.