Multitude of new websites are created every day. As such, there is a need from search engines to change the way they get the latest content indexed as soon as the content is published online. Cloudflare is excited to announce that they have partnered with Microsoft Bing and Yandex to support IndexNow.
Cloudflare’s support of IndexNow stems from the Crawler Hints initiative, announced during their first Impact Week. Crawler Hints is a service that improves the operating efficiency of the approximately 45% of Internet traffic that comes from web crawlers and bots. Cloudflare achieves this efficiency improvement by ensuring that crawlers get information about what they’ve crawled previously and whether it makes sense to crawl a website again.
Cloudflare recently announced two exciting updates for Crawler Hints:
- The first: Crawler Hints now supports IndexNow, a new protocol that allows websites to notify search engines whenever content on their website content is created, updated, or deleted. By collaborating with Microsoft and Yandex, Cloudflare can help improve the efficiency of their search engine infrastructure, customer origin servers, and the Internet at large.
- The second: Crawler Hints is now generally available to all Cloudflare customers for free. Customers can benefit from these more efficient crawls with a single button click. If you want to enable Crawler Hints, you can do so in the Cache Tab of the Dashboard.
What problem does Crawler Hints solve?
Crawlers help make the Internet work. To power experiences that rely on indexing content from across the web, search engines operate networks of bots that crawl the Internet to identify the content most relevant to a user query. But because content on the web is always changing, and there is no central clearinghouse for when these changes happen on websites, search engine crawlers have a Sisyphean task. They must continuously wander the Internet, trying to find out how frequently they should check a given site for updates to its content.
Companies that run search engines have worked hard to make the process as efficient as possible, pushing the state-of-the-art for crawl cadence and infrastructure efficiency. But there remains one clear area of waste: excessive crawl.
At Cloudflare, we see traffic from all the major search crawlers, and have spent the last year studying how often these bots revisit a page that hasn't changed since they last saw it. Every one of these visits is a waste. And, unfortunately, our observation suggests that 53% of this crawler traffic is wasted. Crawler Hints aims to increase the proportion of relevant crawls and limit crawls that don’t find fresh content, improving customer experience and reducing the need for repeated crawls.
If you want to learn more about Crawler Hints, see the original blog.
What is IndexNow?
IndexNow is a protocol that was written by Microsoft and Yandex search engines. The standard aims to provide an efficient manner of signaling to search engines and other crawlers for when they should crawl content. Cloudflare’s Crawler Hints now supports IndexNow.
“In its simplest form, IndexNow is a simple ping so that search engines know that a URL and its content has been added, updated, or deleted, allowing search engines to quickly reflect this change in their search results” -- IndexNow.
By enabling Crawler Hints on your website, with the simple click of a button, Cloudflare will take care of signaling to these search engines when your content has changed via the IndexNow protocol. You don’t need to do anything else!
What does this mean for search engine operators? With Crawler Hints you’ll receive a near real-time, pushed feed of change events of Cloudflare websites (that have opted in). This, in turn, will dramatically improve not just the quality of your results, but also the energy efficiency of running your bots.
How can I enable Crawler Hints – IndexNow for my website?
Crawler Hints is free to use for all Cloudflare customers and promises to revolutionize web efficiency. If you’d like to see how Crawler Hints can benefit how your website is indexed by the worlds biggest search engines, please feel free to opt-into the service:
- Sign in to your Cloudflare Account.
- In the dashboard, navigate to the Cache tab.
- Click on the Configuration section.
- Locate the Crawler Hints sign up card and enable. It's that easy.
Once you’ve enabled it, we will begin sending hints to search engines about when they should crawl particular parts of your website. Crawler Hints holds tremendous promise to improve the efficiency of the Internet.
How’s it going?
Since going live, Cloudflare has more than 60,000 unique websites that have opted-in to Crawler Hints. Those zones have sent Bing about billion Hints for when specific assets on their websites have changed and need to be re-crawled.
We’re thrilled to collaborate with industry leaders Microsoft Bing, and Yandex to bring IndexNow to Crawler Hints, and to bring Crawler Hints to a wide audience in general availability. We look forward to working with additional companies who run crawlers to help make this process more efficient for the whole Internet.