Over the past few years, Google has steadily increased their focus on mobile search and providing the best experience for people checking the internet from smartphones or tablets. This can be seen in the development of a separate search algorithm for mobile search, as well as using mobile friendliness as a ranking factor. During a recent conference, Google revealed that they were planning something even bigger for mobile search, a separate index.
During an event at Pubcon, Google’s Gary Illyes made an announcement that Google will set up a separate index for mobile sites that will be different than the index of sites used for desktop search. This means that search results for mobile will be widely different from the results shown for desktop searchers.
While the mobile search algorithms led to different results for mobile compared to desktop searches, this plan to create a separate index takes things a lot further. Google has been sparse on details about the new plan, but one can assume that Google will only list mobile friendly sites in the mobile index. This means that a site that has content that is not mobile friendly will probably never see those non-mobile friendly pages show up in search results.
Though this announcement is generating a lot of buzz now, it’s not the first time that Google has floated this idea. According to Search Engine Land, “Google first announced that it was experimenting with the idea of a mobile index last year at SMX East. Since that time, Google’s clearly decided that a mobile index makes sense and is moving ahead with the idea.”
Since Google is now saying that the separate index plan will go into effect in a few months, it’s a safe bet that this change will happen. Unfortunately, Google’s lack of information leaves marketers with a lot of unanswered questions.
Most importantly, the question of what content will be placed in the mobile index isn’t clear. And will the search algorithm really only pull from the mobile index, since that means that in certain cases, people won’t see useful content in search results because the pages aren’t in the mobile index.
In the end, this may be a huge hassle for website owners. In order to prevent content from being hidden from mobile users, website owners will need to make sure that all of their content is mobile friendly. Google may be relying on the fact that website owners will make the necessary changes in order to keep their content in the mobile index.
When Google switched the mobile friendly search algorithm, they warned businesses in advance, giving them ample time to modify their sites. As a result, there was less disruption to website traffic when the change went into effect. Hopefully, Google will explain more about the separate index plan and how website owners can prepare their sites before the change goes into effect.
Google’s market share of search results means they can make large changes like this and expect website owners to fall in line. And while this can be annoying, Google has used there position to push for a better web experience for all. So it’s best to follow their suggestions as they often benefit the site by creating better web experiences.
For more information on upcoming plans from Google, read this article on recent innovations from Google Adwords.