Search engine giant Google announced last month its plan to separate the indexes for mobile and desktop searches. While the split is set to take a few months to complete, Google has now kicked off an experiment related to one of the biggest changes to the search engine. The Mountain View company is testing a mobile-focused version of its search index in a move to give greater priority to mobile content in Google's search results.
For starters, Google's bots scan the web in order to monitor trillions of web pages and the links they contain. The result is a broad index of searches categorized based on tons of factors that, alongside the company's algorithms, help Google to return results according to individual searches. That being said, the new update means Google will soon base the rankings of web pages on their mobile content regardless of whether a user searches on desktop or mobile. Google product manager Doantam Phan explained in a blog post that while the company's search index will remain a single index of both websites and apps, the algorithms will resort to a web page's mobile version when analyzing structured data and ranking a website's particular page. This means that web pages with no optimized mobile versions are sure to show up down in search results, losing to the competition and eventually losing traffic.
The impetus for this transition comes from the fact that Google sees more searches being conducted using mobile devices than desktop computers on a daily basis. The problem is Google currently looks at the desktop version of a web page when it evaluates a page's search rank – an issue that the company is trying to address with the new update. Although the change could take some time before it fully rolls out, the long-term goal is to improve mobile search results, according to Phan. Once the change is fully implemented, there will no longer be a need to adjust web pages for mobile friendly viewing.
To help webmasters adapt to the change, Google has offered a few handy instructions. For those who have responsive or dynamic serving sites on both mobile and desktop platforms, no changes are required. However, for websites with a different markup for mobile and desktop versions, webmasters must make sure that both counterparts of their web pages serve a structured markup.