Google has announced that it will be splitting its massive search index into an index for mobile optimized web content and an index for desktop content.
The split was announced at this year’s Pubcon, a digital marketing convention in Las Vegas which took place from October 10th through the 13th. Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes reported that, in just a few months, Google will split the index, making the mobile search index primary and therefore updated rapidly. The desktop search index will take second priority.
Google’s search index is a gigantic listing of websites and pages that Googlebot crawls through and categorizes to prepare for a searcher’s query.
Mobile Optimization and SEO
While the split of the search index is certainly a big deal, it shouldn’t come as a big surprise to SEOs and digital marketers. Google has been encouraging webmasters and online publishers to offer mobile responsive or mobile versions of their websites.
In April 2015, this encouragement became necessity with the release of an update to its algorithm that made mobile optimization a factor in PageRank. Google had realized that more than half of queries were made from mobile devices. The search engine giant released the update following user trends. Often referred to as Mobilegeddon, this update pushed some websites far down into the depths of Google and bumped others up to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs).
With the announcement of the search index split, Google is officially saying that a website not optimized for mobile will rarely be seen. The split gives mobile optimized websites enhanced visibility on mobile devices.
How is your website performing in mobile optimized search results?
Are you unsure whether your website is ranking well for mobile optimized search results? Check before the search index divide.
Google offers free Webmaster tools. Use Search Analytics to segment out all the reporting data by device. This will tell you how your website is ranking on mobile.
What factors will Google’s mobile search index consider in PageRank?
It’s important to be proactive and fix any issues your mobile website may currently have before the search index divide rolls out. Google is looking for specific factors. Be mindful of what they are and your website should have no problem after the split.
Speedy Page Loading
According to Google, 53% of users will leave a mobile optimized website or page after 3 seconds of waiting for it to load.
Does your website have lots of dynamic and interactive content? This may be affecting the rate at which it loads. If your website publishes a lot of content related to your industry, you should consider signing on for Google News and creating Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).
An Easy to Navigate Mobile Site
Nothing causes a user to abandon a webpage faster than a glance at a screen with tiny content they have to zoom and scroll through to read.
If your website is not mobile optimized, it’s not just Google’s algorithms who won’t want to view your page. The user won’t either.
Make Sure Your Content Is Relevant
Google’s primary purpose is to deliver relevant content to the user based on the query. After announcing the coming search index split, Google insisted, almost apologetically, that websites with relevant content still have a chance at appearing in search results, even if they’re not mobile optimized, as long as they have the best match to the query.
Even a business with the best content on a website that is not optimized for mobile will have a competitor with relevant content on a website that is mobile optimized. For the user and Googlebot, the mobile optimized site will win that battle every time.
Google’s really saying that optimizing your website for mobile isn’t going to solve all your problems. Make sure your content is as relevant and valuable as ever.
Mobile Search Index Mysteries and Conclusions
As with any update Google rolls out, there are a lot of questions, many of which can only be answered by trial and error after the update. Here’s what we’re wondering.
Now that mobile optimized sites represent the primary search index, will the index contain only mobile friendly content? The answer to this is most likely, “Yes.” Or, it might as well be. Mobile content is abundant and at the very least takes priority. Why would Google continue to show mobile users desktop content?
How out of date will the desktop index be? Google announced that mobile content will be updated rapidly, more so than the desktop index. Sure, mobile users are making queries immediately relevant to their location more often than desktop users, but desktop users still need pertinent information. Will it become unhelpful to bother searching from a desktop at all?
Are you concerned about the search index split? Contact us for more information. We can help you make sure your website is mobile optimized and performing well. Or, check out some of our mobile projects from our portfolio.