Big Divide on the Horizon as Google Splits its Search Index
November 2nd 2016 | By Steve Grant
We all know Google is no stranger to big announcements, and this latest one has pretty much got to top them all. So with the Google search index set to split completely into two distinct versions: one dedicated to mobile search and a separate one for desktop, what does this mean for online marketing strategies?
Mobile search and desktop search are set to divide so that mobile pages are indexed differently to those accessed through desktop searches. The mobile website index will be more readily updated than its desktop counterpart, meaning that mobile users will be furnished with better quality results faster.
Google Pushing Boundaries with Mobile Search
Google seems to be pushing the boundaries when it comes to boosting the search experience on mobile platforms. The recent introduction of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) saw news articles loading in super-quick time on mobile devices, thanks to an advertising revenue share deal with publishers: great news for those who need on-the-go access to the most recent news updates.
In April last year Google made possibly its most significant algorithm update in its history when it started prioritising websites optimised for mobile. Now website owners will need to be absolutely certain their sites are mobile friendly if they want to make the newly prioritised set of results.
Key Message: Responsive Websites are THE Route Forward
Now the indexes are separate, there is no room for sites that have different mobile and desktop versions where the mobile site lags behind the main desktop version because it doesn’t deliver on what is promised. For this reason, responsive appears to be the only route forward.
According to Google webmaster trends analyst Gary Illyes, the divide will take effect within just a few months and will lead to desktop search results falling behind mobile ones.
Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Land sums it up really well, saying: “The most substantial change will likely be that by having a mobile index, Google can run its ranking algorithm in a different fashion across ‘pure’ mobile content rather than the current system that extracts data from desktop content to determine mobile rankings.”
Joost de Valk of search engine company Yoast feels that the change will push website owners to put more effort into their mobile user experience, saying, “I think in part it is about pushing people to change their sites to be responsive rather than having a separate desktop and mobile site. By saying that their mobile index is more important, it will push people to focus on their mobile sites.”
The New Dual Role of Search Engine Marketing
So it seems that search engine marketing is to take on a dual role. Now there will be one strategy for mobile search, and another for desktop, bearing in mind the differences in user behaviour. Of course everything will be made that much easier by having a responsive website.
Do you have a responsive website? If not, call us.