In a month full of bombshells, Google dropped the biggest one somewhat subtly at an event not really known for its earth-shattering announcements. Namely, they will no longer maintain a single search engine index. Instead, they are crafting a brand new search engine index algorithm that will exclusively handle mobile results. A desktop index will be maintained separately, albeit with fewer updates and less “freshness” in terms of its indexing rate.
Despite the writing on the wall that mobile has overtaken desktop being so faded that it now blends in with the wallpaper, this news still comes as a shock to many. Mobile’s upsurge has come insanely quickly in the past few years, to the point where our daily habits have been reshaped around our device’s capabilities in mostly unseen ways. Thinking of “the web” as something not taking place primarily on desktop will take some getting used to.
But get used to it we shall! Not recognizing the full scope of Google’s move could leave you behind in a deprecated, outdated view of the internet that fewer people go to anymore. That’s right, not jumping onboard a mobile-first strategy puts you in the online equivalent of your local mall’s Hot Topic.
What Google Going Mobile First Means
Grasping the significance of Google’s massive shift can be made a little easier by processing how mobile search queries work currently. Under the current system, Google uses dozens of ranking factors and separate algorithms to process desktop queries. Therefore, if a user in Kennesaw searches for “cheap Halloween decorations,” they may see a mixture of eCommerce results and major retail chains like WalMart mixed with locally-influenced search results fetched by Pigeon.
Now, if she were searching on mobile instead, it gets more complicated. Google currently processes mobile search results differently by essentially boosting the rankings of sites that have gone through the trouble to abide by their mobile optimization guidelines. So, Ms. Kennesaw could easily see different search results on mobile than she saw on desktop. Prime differences between desktop and mobile results include more local maps results and less images results.
To Google, this extra step no longer seems worth it. Instead of taking the mostly-cooked desktop search results, throwing them back on the stove and adding some new mobile-friendly seasonings, they decided to rewrite the recipe book entirely. Mobile-centric sites will make up their “Primary” index, which will be populated with the freshest content and make use of the most up-to-date algorithm optimizations. Since mobile-optimized pages are usually more concise, Google argues that this practice will help them conserve resources headed into the future.
Desktop users will essentially be working from Google Search: Last Year’s Edition. While everybody jumps on board Battlefield 1, they’re still playing Battlefield 4 on a last-generation console and living in nostalgia.
Presumably the desktop algorithm will receive updates of its own, lagging index rate notwithstanding, but it will always play second fiddle in Google’s priorities from now on.
Preparing for the Mobile First Future
Mobile optimization used to be a nice-to-have non-necessity, but it has become more of a “jump on board or face digital death” type affair. The differences will affect your website layouts, your coding and all of your SEO and SEM efforts from the ground up.
During this rocky transition, it helps to have a guiding hand like EverSpark. Our experienced Atlanta digital marketing experts have eaten, slept and breathed mobile-centric marketing for the past several years, and they are ready to bring your company up to speed.
Contact us to start making it happen today.