At the moment, Google’s got a single index of documents that it uses to respond to search queries, but with the crazy rate that mobile searches are increasing by, it was only a matter of time before something mobile-specific was in the pipeline. Now Google have made an announcement telling us that they’ll be rolling out a Separate Mobile Index very soon. The index Google has right now is a database of all pages on the web, with accompanying info about each one, such as readability and mobile-friendliness. Google’s only been collecting this handy info about desktop searches so far, but times are changing fast. Mobile searches account for around half of Google’s searches and the most interesting part of Gary Illyes’ announcement was that the new separate mobile index will become the primary index.
So, what does this mean?
There’s still hazy info around what the mobile index will mean for desktop queries and when exactly it’ll be rolled out. Google are saying within the next few months, so we could see something very soon. There are loads of questions about this update, not least what it will mean for desktop content; will the desktop index become out-of-date and will the mobile index only contain mobile-friendly content?
Google has said that the desktop index will be maintained separately, but won’t have as much resource piled into it, so it won’t be as up-to-date. This could provide oversights, because there are still loads of people out there using their desktops at work and home, so providing them with dated content seems weird. And will there be a preference for the latest most relevant content, instead of rich, detailed and useful content?
Mobile on the March
This development neatly fits into the ascension of mobile usage and the massive increase we’re seeing in mobile search. It’s more important than ever to adapt SEO strategy around mobile search and ensure websites are optimised for mobile usage. Sites and pages must work on mobile-friendliness and loading times if they don’t want to get left behind.
Desktop searches are now secondary to mobile search and mobile is playing a starring role in Google new search strategies. Their 2015 algorithm implied that they were looking more favourably on good mobile strategy by ranking boosts for mobile-friendly sites and Accelerated Mobile Pages. If you already have a really mobile responsive site, then there shouldn’t be too many issues with the mobile index, but having two very distinct desktop and mobile sites could create issues.
We’ve already seen that brands using AMPs have seen more Google traffic, so they’ll obviously become a much more important part of Google’s mobile strategy and Google will clearly be steering brands towards using them.
A separate mobile index is a very interesting development and we’ll have to wait and see what the immediate implications are. In the meantime, making sure your website and content is mobile-friendly is more important than ever.