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New Google Mobile Search Index Announced: Ensure your Website is Ready for the Changes

In October, Google announced they will create a separate mobile index for its search engine to read through when responding to mobile searches.  Currently, Google only has one index for both mobile and desktop searches.  Once compiled, the mobile index will be Google’s primary index and its data will be fresher than the desktop index.  This change will create a better user search experience and better search results for mobile searchers, but it will penalize and limit the reach of websites that are not mobile-friendly.  Google searchers can sit back and wait for the improved search results, but website owners need to take action to ensure they understand and are ready for the change. 

How Does Indexing Work?

To create their 100,000,000+ gigabyte index, Google uses software known as “spiders” to crawl webpages and to continuously follow links and discover new pages.  Link by link and page by page, the software gathers data about webpages and sends it back to Google’s servers. 

With this information, Google creates its index.  Now that there will be two indexes, the software will have to crawl for both the desktop and mobile indexes separately.  For the mobile index, the software will look for sites that are built for mobile devices or built to respond to mobile devices.

Mobile-friendly website
Responsive websites change their layout based on screen size, as shown here. The left screen shows what the SVM website looks like on a desktop, and the right screen shows it after it has responded to a mobile screen.

Getting your Site Ready for the Second Index

To start preparing for the new mobile index, check if your webpages are mobile-friendly using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test that analyzes a URL to report its mobile status.

If your page isn’t mobile-friendly, read through Google’s Mobile Friendly Websites guide.

If your site is already mobile-friendly, you can use your Google Analytics account to view your site visitors’ behaviors on mobile devices under Audience-> Mobile -> Overview. 

Just because your site is mobile-friendly and ready for the second index, you shouldn’t stop evaluating and improving the site.  Google suggests reading the Mobile Search Engine Optimization Guide to learn how to improve your site’s rank in search results.

Why Name a Primary Index?

If your site is already mobile friendly, the key piece of this announcement may be that Google is making its mobile index its primary index- What about your desktop searchers?

The decision to make the mobile index the primary and more up-to-date index was based on a number of reasons involving search activity:

  • The majority of Google searches are done on mobile devices
  • Most mobile Googling is done for an “in the moment question” that searchers are looking for an immediate answer to
  • Desktop searches are typically done for extensive research, when a searcher is combing through the search results and not just settling for the first result

In making the mobile index the most up-to-date index, Google’s goal is to improve the user experience for a majority of their searches and prepare for the future.  Google will still care for the desktop index, and the Google spider software will still continuously crawl sites to keep the index fresh.

The Times are Changing

In creating its second index, Google is encouraging a change in the internet.  Websites will have to cater to mobile searchers if they want mobile traffic.  As a website owner, know your website traffic and remain loyal to your visitors and dedicated to offering them smooth interactions with your website.  If your website respects this second index, the change will benefit both sites and visitors. 
Read more about mobile-friendly websites or ask SVM a question about this change.

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