Google aren’t really known for being that open about how they go about their search business. However, in the last few weeks, a comment from Gary Illyes, Google webmaster trends analyst, has confirmed for many the clear direction Google search has been moving in. Basically, they are in the process of creating a new index for mobile devices, which will become the “primary” index for search. This means searches from mobile devices will serve up the freshest results as Google will update its mobile index more frequently.
The clues to this development have all been there. Google have introduced Accelerated Mobile Pages, making site speed an important ranking factor and perhaps most infamously of all, they unleashed mobilegeddon. Hope you all survived that one!
Ok, search 101: Google’s bots crawl the web tracking more than 60 trillion web pages (you probably have one or two of those) and the links within them. It’s a tough job but some bots have to do it. These pages are then categorised into a index based on hundreds of different factors. This index, along with a series of algorithms, enables Google to turn up the search results you want, when you want them.
As of today, we’re pretty sure that Google only uses one index for all its searches, regardless of platform. However, in the future, it looks like Google will create a separate mobile-only index that will serve as the “primary” index for search. That could mean that desktop and mobile users will see different search results and Google will put more resources into those searching on mobile. This shouldn’t come as a massive surprise given the way that Google has been treating non-mobile friendly sites in search.
At a basic level, mobile now accounts for the majority of all Google searches, so using an index that was created primarily for desktop doesn’t really make sense any more. It’s also worth thinking about the differences in how we use mobile and desktop search.
When we have a mobile in hand, chances are that we’re looking for an immediate answer to a specific question that you have right now. It’s all about ‘near me’ search queries. And Google’s success depends on these being accurate and fast. If you want to research a topic more deeply, trawling through pages of results, you’ll probably save that for desktop.
The tech website, Mashable, tried to get Google to comment on the changes but they were pretty much ignored. However, it does sound like we’ll find out sooner rather than later. The new index should be rolling out “within months,” Illyes told Search Engine Land.
This one is worth watching as it could fundamentally change the way in which information is served up to users. There’s no need to panic though as good old fashioned marketing principles hold true here. This is still all about understanding customer behaviour and providing segmented communications. The mindset and expectations of users changes depending on their situation and their immediate needs. We need to be able to provide the information they need in the way that they need it….and fast. Our advice? If you’re not already, you have to think about how you make your information available to mobile users. If you don’t, you’re heading to the back of a pretty long queue.