Archive for the ‘SEO’ Category

IndexNow vs Sitemap.xml

Friday, March 29th, 2024

In the ever-evolving landscape of search engine optimization (SEO), the dialogue between technology creators and users plays a pivotal role in shaping the tools and practices that become the standard. Recently, a fascinating discussion unfolded on a public forum, shedding light on the integration and efficacy of IndexNow in SEO practices, particularly in relation to the SEO Framework plugin. This post aims to distill the essence of that conversation, offering a nuanced perspective on the future of SEO tools and protocols.

What is IndexNow?

The IndexNow protocol, introduced by Microsoft Bing and Yandex, is a significant advancement in the realm of search engine optimization (SEO) and web content indexing. This new protocol offers website owners a direct channel to notify search engines about updates, additions, or deletions to their website content, streamlining the process of getting content indexed. With the traditional method, it could take days or even weeks for search engines to discover and index new content, potentially impacting traffic and sales. IndexNow addresses this issue by providing immediate notification to search engines, thereby ensuring quicker content reflection in search results????.

IndexNow operates on a simple yet effective principle: by submitting a URL update to one participating search engine, the information is shared with all other search engines that have adopted the protocol. This not only saves effort but also contributes to a more open and efficient Internet. For developers, adopting IndexNow is straightforward, involving the generation of a key, hosting it on the website, and submitting URLs through a simple HTTP request. Non-developers, on the other hand, can benefit from IndexNow through its integration with popular platforms and content management systems (CMS) like WordPress, Wix, and Duda, among others??.

The protocol has garnered support from several major search engines besides Bing and Yandex, such as Naver,, and Yep, with Google also testing IndexNow for potential benefits in sustainability and efficiency. Google, known for its efficient crawling mechanisms and use of HTTP/2 for over half of its crawls, is evaluating IndexNow with a focus on enhancing the sustainability of its web crawling efforts??????.

What is Sitemap.xml?

A sitemap.xml is a crucial tool for SEO, essentially acting as a map for search engines to find and understand the structure of your website. It’s especially important for ensuring that all your pages have the chance to appear in search engine results. Without a sitemap, search engines rely on links within your site or from other sites to discover your content, which can be inefficient and lead to missing pages??.

Creating a sitemap.xml involves listing your website’s URLs along with additional information like when the page was last modified (lastmod), how often the page is likely to change (changefreq), and the priority of the page on your site. These elements help search engines crawl your site more intelligently, although it’s worth noting that not all search engines, including Google, use the changefreq and priority information??.

If your website platform doesn’t automatically generate a sitemap for you, there are numerous sitemap generator tools available. Once you’ve created your sitemap, you should submit it to Google via Google Search Console to ensure it’s crawled. This submission process helps Google discover new pages faster, re-crawl changed pages more quickly, and helps you monitor the index status of your pages????.

For larger websites, or if your sitemap exceeds the limits of 50MB in size or 50,000 URLs, you may need to create multiple sitemaps and then compile them into a sitemap index. This index acts as a sitemap for your sitemaps, helping keep everything organized and accessible for search engines??.

In terms of optimization, it’s important that your sitemap only includes URLs that you want indexed, ensuring they return a 200 status code, are fully qualified and absolute, and are canonical URLs. Additionally, your sitemap itself should be UTF-8 encoded, not exceed the size and URL limits, and correctly specify the namespace to follow standards set by

Lastly, remember to check your sitemap regularly using tools like Google Search Console’s Sitemap Report to identify and fix any indexing issues, such as duplicate content or pages that exceed your site’s crawl budget. Aligning your sitemap and robots.txt file is also crucial to avoid sending mixed signals to Google about which pages are important??.

Why Switch to IndexNow?

The emerging trend of being encouraged or even pressured to switch to the IndexNow protocol marks a significant shift in how websites communicate changes to search engines. Proponents argue that IndexNow, with its ability to instantly notify search engines about content updates, deletions, or new additions, represents a leap towards more efficient internet crawling and indexing. This efficiency could translate into fresher search results and potentially better visibility for website content.

However, there are notable cons to consider. The transition to IndexNow demands technical adaptation and potentially, for some, a steep learning curve. Not all search engines have adopted the protocol, which could mean that its benefits are not universally felt across all search platforms. There’s also a concern about the potential for misuse or spam, as the immediate indexing could be exploited to push low-quality content.

Furthermore, the shift underscores a broader issue within SEO and web development communities: the reliance on a few major tech companies to dictate standards and practices. While IndexNow promises benefits, its adoption hinges on broader support from the web community and the balancing of its advantages against potential drawbacks.

SEO Framework and IndexNow

Sybre Waaijer, a key figure behind the SEO Framework plugin, shared valuable insights into the plugin’s compatibility with IndexNow. Waaijer elucidated the plugin’s strategic direction, revealing a commitment to incorporating IndexNow, either directly or as an extension. This move, according to Waaijer, is in response to the evolving demands of search engine protocols and the SEO community’s feedback. Interestingly, the update will also see the deprecation of traditional pinging functionalities for Bing and Google, signifying a shift towards more autonomous search engine operations.

Fabrice Canel, representing a significant tenure at Microsoft and Bing, brought clarity to the discussion by comparing the functionalities and limitations of sitemaps and IndexNow. Canel highlighted the inherent limitations of sitemaps, such as their inability to offer real-time notifications and their weak delete signals. In contrast, IndexNow promises a secure, real-time notification process for content updates, a feature increasingly demanded by modern search users. This open protocol, Canel notes, fosters a collaborative environment among participating search engines, enhancing the efficiency and reach of content indexing.

Yet, Waaijer raised pertinent questions regarding the real-world application and benefits of IndexNow over traditional sitemaps. While acknowledging the theoretical advantages of IndexNow, Waaijer pointed out the practical effectiveness of sitemaps in indexing until recent shifts aimed at promoting IndexNow’s adoption. The discussion touched on the nuanced realities of SEO practices, where real-time indexing does not necessarily translate to real-time ranking improvements. Moreover, Waaijer critically assessed the priorities driving the adoption of new SEO protocols, suggesting a balanced approach that considers both technological advancements and the practical needs of SEO practitioners.

The dialogue between Waaijer and Canel exemplifies the critical conversations shaping the future of SEO. As tools and protocols evolve, the collective insights and experiences of industry experts and practitioners will continue to be invaluable in navigating the complexities of search engine optimization. This post, drawing from the rich discussion between two prominent figures in the SEO community, offers a glimpse into the ongoing evolution of SEO practices, highlighting the importance of adaptability, collaboration, and critical inquiry in the pursuit of effective and efficient SEO strategies.


The adoption of IndexNow signifies a paradigm shift in how content is indexed on the Internet, promising faster indexing times, reduced crawl loads for websites, and more timely delivery of updated content to users. This initiative reflects a collaborative effort towards creating a more efficient and sustainable web ecosystem, benefiting both webmasters and users alike??????.

For more detailed insights and technical guidelines on how to implement IndexNow for your website, visiting the official IndexNow documentation and resources provided by Microsoft Bing and Yandex is highly recommended??????.

Google Search Console – 404 Errors for Unknown pages

Wednesday, February 21st, 2024

When reviewing your Google Search Console –> Page Indexing –> Not found (404) error pages, you may be surprised to see page URLs that you did not create.

This can be confusing and concerning and there are several reasons why this might happen:

External Links

One common source of error is that other websites may have incorrectly linked to pages on your site that do not exist. This is common when there’s a typo in the URL or if the linking site uses an outdated URL that has since been removed or changed on your website.

Internal Links

Related to internal linking strategy, there might be broken links within your own site. These could be in your posts, pages, or even in your site’s template or navigation menus.

Sometimes, links are created automatically by WordPress plugins, and if those plugins are misconfigured or outdated, they might generate incorrect URLs.

Crawling or indexing issues

Search engines like Google use automated bots to crawl the web. These bots sometimes attempt to access URLs based on patterns they’ve detected on your site or elsewhere, leading them to nonexistent pages.

Malware or Hacking

In some cases, a site may have been compromised, and the attacker may have created pages or scripts that generate fake URLs. These URLs can lead to 404 errors when the search engine tries to access them.

Dynamic URL Parameters

Some WordPress plugins or themes might dynamically generate URLs based on user interactions or specific actions. If these URLs get indexed by search engines but are not intended to be standalone pages, they can result in 404 errors.

Migration or Redesign Isusues

If you’ve recently migrated your WordPress site or gone through a redesign, some of the old URLs that were indexed by search engines might no longer exist, leading to 404 errors.

    How to Address the Issue

    1. Check External Links: Use tools like Google Search Console to find the sources of these links. If they’re coming from external sites, you can try to contact the site owners to correct the links.

    1. Fix Internal Links: Audit your site for any broken internal links. WordPress plugins like “Broken Link Checker” can help identify and fix these.

    1. Implement Redirects: For URLs that have changed or been removed, consider setting up 301 redirects to the correct or new pages. This can be done using WordPress plugins like “Redirection” or by editing your site’s .htaccess file (for Apache servers).

    1. Regularly Update and Secure Your Site: Ensure your WordPress core, themes, and plugins are always up to date. Implement security best practices to reduce the risk of hacking and malware.

    1. Submit Updated Sitemaps: Regularly submit updated XML sitemaps to Google Search Console to help search engines understand the current structure of your site.

    1. Monitor and Manage 404s: Regularly monitor the 404 errors reported in Google Search Console and address them promptly. If certain URLs are generating 404 errors but should not be indexed in the first place, consider using the robots.txt file to prevent search engines from crawling those URLs.

Final Thoughts

    Addressing 404 errors involves both identifying the source of the problematic links and taking steps to correct or mitigate the issues. This not only helps improve your site’s user experience but also its SEO performance.