Now it will begin ranking sites according to their mobile content first, rather than their desktop-formatted content. The company’s page ranking algorithms will now look to the mobile index first to decide how content should be ordered in a results page, in a move that is sure to put site administrators on quick notice to update their existing page catalogs and database configurations.
The announcement follows news from last week that mobile and tablet internet usage has now surpassed desktop usage for the first time on a worldwide level, according to StatCounter’s latest results from October.
Google says it has “begun experiments to make its index mobile-first” by launching a separate search index that will be updated more frequently than the desktop one.
“Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site's content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results,” says a company blog post. “Of course, while our index will be built from mobile documents, we're going to continue to build a great search experience for all users, whether they come from mobile or desktop devices.”
Right now it is uncertain what the update frequency will be between Google’s mobile and desktop indexes, but people can only hope that desktop users will still be given near real-time results. This is important not just for casual information searches, but also for a variety of corporate industries and businesses that rely on search indexing priority to deliver information to their clients and investors.
While Google has yet to clarify whether its mobile search index will only return mobile results, it has provided a list of hints and tips for site admins to ensure proper page ranking without slipping to the bottom of search results.