Earlier this year, we published an article on Google’s search algorithm update, which gave preference to mobile-friendly websites in mobile search results. Now, 6 months later, Google has announced that it will be switching to a mobile-first index.
At Pubcon 2016, Gary Illyes, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, talked about search infrastructure like HTTPS, to ranking and spam like RankBrain (machine learning), Penguin (bad link practices), keep using the disavow tool and more.
But the biggest jaw dropping moment is the fact that Google will be switching to a mobile-first index. Yup, you read that right. They are essentially dividing the mobile and desktop indexes. This doesn’t mean desktop will disappear (yet) but it will only be updated second to mobile, the new primary index.
The Signs of a Mobile First Index
If you think about it, it makes complete sense. With users spending 177 minutes on their smartphones per day looking to answer questions, and in many instances, using verbal commands, it’s no wonder that 85% of Google’s search results are mobile-friendly which led to the mobile-friendly label being dropped from mobile searches.
Up to now, Google would crawl your desktop website and try to find a happy balance between desktop and mobile by awarding sites that were either dedicated to mobile or sites built with responsive / adaptive versions. But if you read the writing on the wall (aka search algorithm), there have been a boatload of signs of change coming.
Take for example the past few mobile algorithm updates to improve search results and give love to mobile first pages. Plus, check out the updates since early-mid September from Google Webmaster Central blog on Accelerate Mobile Pages (AMP) – a way to build mobile web pages for static content to render faster:
- How to get started with Accelerated Mobile Pages
- How can GoogleSearch Console help you AMPlify your site
- How to best evaluate issues with your Accelerated Mobile Pages
- Top 8 things to consider when you AMPlify a site
In the same breath that Google dropped the mobile-friendly label, they also mentioned that as of January 10, 2017, content that’s not easily accessible from the transition of a mobile search results to a mobile page may not rank as highly.