SEO split: Google mobile and desktop search to show different results

14/10/2016

Google is completely splitting its search index into two distinct versions: a rapidly updated mobile one, and a separate, secondary search index for the desktop web.

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The move, coming in a few months, swill see the search giant implement a previously announced plan to index mobile pages separately from desktop pages.

Google also plans to keep its mobile website index more up to date than the desktop index, which means mobile users will get the best results faster than desktop users.

It also means websites and online publishers will have to make sure their sites are mobile friendly if they want to be properly indexed by Google.

This is the latest move in Google's efforts to enhance search on mobile. Recently it introduced Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which loads news articles found through Google much faster on mobile devices and shares a cut of the advertising with the publisher.

The change will hit within “months”, according to a Google webmaster trends analyst, Gary Illyes, speaking at digital marketing conference Pubcon in Las Vegas, and will leave the desktop version of the index less up to date than the mobile one.

Maintaining a fully separate index would allow Google to expand the push by judging sites with alternate mobile and desktop sites very differently, putting an end to the sort of situation where clicking through from a search result leads to a mobile site that has none of the promised information.

Over the past year, Google has been streamlining its mobile capabilities.

Back in 2015, the company tweaked its algorithm to give priority to websites optimized for mobile. More recently, Google has started adding Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) in search results to offer users the option to choose websites with faster loading pages.

The new search index should help improve mobile users’ experience of the Web, as more people begin to come online exclusively through smartphones.

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