Google’s John Mueller answered a question in a hangout during office hours about whether the ability to index queries was returning. It should return in a few weeks, but a month is fast approaching. Mueller shared the background of Google’s thoughts on the future of the tool.
Request indexing function
The request indexing feature in Google Search Console (GSC) allows publishers to request indexing manually. It is typically used when a new web page is published or an existing page is updated.
It’s also useful for signaling to Google that a website is back online after the website has been taken offline for a period of time.
Request indexing tool disabled
According to Google’s announcement of the indexing function for inquiries, this was deactivated a month ago in order to “Infrastructure changes. ”
The tool should be out of service for a few weeks. It is now approaching a month that the tool has been disabled.
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We’ve turned off the Request Indexing feature of the URL Inspection Tool to make some infrastructure changes. We expect it to return in the coming weeks. We continue to find and index content using our regular methods as described here: https://t.co/rMFVaLht6V
– Google Webmasters (@googlewmc) October 14, 2020
Is Google taking away the request indexing tool?
The person who asked the question referred to a survey that asked why publishers needed the tool. The poll was posted on Twitter by John Mueller.
John Mueller revealed that the intent of the survey was to help Google understand how publishers are using the requirements indexing feature and to use those insights to help them decide what to do next.
Google won’t take the tool away?
John Mueller’s response suggested that Google had no intention of taking the tool away.
The question that was asked:
“What’s up with requirements indexing? … will you take it away from us? “
Mueller giggled and replied:
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“I have no intention of taking anything away.”
He went on to mention how valuable the tool is to Google:
“… I think this is one of those features where the different teams at Google really love the data they collect there and want to index those things asap.”
Spammers abuse the tool
Mueller next addressed the issue of spammers abusing the tool, which is interesting as it suggests that the tool isn’t all rainbows and great data for Google because of Google’s interaction.
“Unfortunately, it sometimes attracts the attention of people who use it to try to index spam content.”
Use cases for Google Review
Next, Mueller suggested examining the various reasons publishers use the requirement indexing feature and see if there is a way to automate the process to eliminate the need for manual indexing.
“One of the things we’ve been thinking about is… is there something we could do to make sure that the features that people need, or why they are using this tool, are automatically covered so that people don’t need it doing something manually.
And that’s something I notice on Twitter where there are a lot of people who come in with reasonable reasons to use this tool.
And I think we should just be able to do that automatically so people don’t have to do things manually. “
No plans to take the tool away
Next, Müller reiterated that there are currently no plans to make the tool’s current offline status permanent.
“There are no plans to disable the tool or take it away or anything like that.”
Further develop the tool for unusual use cases?
Mueller suggested looking into ways to improve Google Search Console and indexing so that the tool would be useful in rare cases and not used as part of the daily publisher workflow.
“However, if we can handle more of these requests automatically at the same time, it will save everyone more time and be a bit more efficient.
So this is the direction I went there trying to figure out what we need to do differently so that you don’t have to use this manual tool unless there is really some extraordinary use case. “
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One use case relates to why a publisher might use the request indexing feature.
When John Mueller says that Google wants the tool to be required only in an “exceptional use case,” he is pointing out that the tool should not be required under normal circumstances, but only in exceptional circumstances.
In his follow-up statement, he points out that the reason why this shouldn’t be necessary could be as or more of a problem on Google’s side than on the publisher’s side.
This is how Müller explained it:
“And a lot of the things I’ve seen on the forum have been really useful when it comes to, oh, if I don’t do anything manually it takes two weeks to get a new page indexed.
From my point of view, this seems like something that shouldn’t take that long on our part.
So we should really take some of these examples and work on improving our systems … at least from my point of view.
That was kind of a background. “
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Missing request indexing tool unrelated to recent indexing issues
Mueller helpfully noted that the recent indexing problems and the temporary removal of the request indexing feature were not related.
While the timing suggests they are related, Mueller confirmed that there is no connection between the two events.
“And it has nothing to do with the indexing problems we had in the past. It’s really just that people are working to figure out what’s the right approach here. “
Indexing tool for queries from Google is not being taken away
The takeaway is that the requirement indexing feature doesn’t go away. It seems that Google is evaluating the use cases and trying to understand what they can do to improve.
It seems that it’s not the tool they want to remove, but the underlying need for the tool they want to address, so it is no longer necessary, except in “exceptional cases” where a publisher really prioritizes something indexed needed.
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Watch as Miller answers the question in the office hours hangout