Google to divide its index, giving mobile users better & fresher content


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Google to divide its index, giving mobile users better & fresher content

Currently, Google has a single index of documents for search. Google's Gary Illyes announced they plan on releasing a second search index, mobile and desktop - with mobile being the primary.

Barry Schwartz on October 13, 2016 at 1:15 pm
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Gary Illyes from Google said this morning at his keynote address at PubCon that Google is creating a separate mobile index, which will ultimately end up being the primary index that they keep current. Gary added that the desktop index will be the “secondary” index and not be as up-to-date as the mobile index.

Google said that when this mobile index goes live, Google will write something about the change on their webmaster blog. There is no estimated time for this mobile index to happen, he just said it is something Google is working on.

Currently, Google has a primarily desktop index, with some signals that show if there is a valid mobile version of the page. It looks like Google is going to be maintaining two different indexes – mobile and desktop – sometime in the future.

Here are some of the tweets covering what Gary Illyes said at PubCon:

.@methode: Google creating a sep mobile index, which will be it’s primary index. Desktop will be a secondary index,less up to date #Pubcon

— Lisa Barone (@LisaBarone) October 13, 2016

Mobile first index will change things since mobile sites tend to not be as large as desktop. @methode #pubcon

— Jennifer Slegg (@jenstar) October 13, 2016

Mobile index will be primary & desktop secondary-think about what are the main differences between your mobile & desktop #pubcon @methode

— Eugene Feygin (@rawseo) October 13, 2016

Google will still have a desktop index, it just won't be as fresh as the mobile index. #pubcon

— Lisa Barone (@LisaBarone) October 13, 2016

Sites often remove content and structured data from mobile pages for size. @methode #pubcon

— Jennifer Slegg (@jenstar) October 13, 2016

If the content on your mobile page is the same as desktop, those sites will be fine. @methode #pubcon

— Jennifer Slegg (@jenstar) October 13, 2016

Links will be scarcer on mobile. There will be loss of tokens (words). People put less content on mobile devices. #pubcon

— Lisa Barone (@LisaBarone) October 13, 2016

When @methode says tokens he's mostly referring to words on the page. #pubcon

— Ryan Jones (@RyanJones) October 13, 2016

I asked webmasters and SEOs what they think of this announcement. Of course, many expected it but…

@rustybrick Highly expected

— Pedro Dias (@pedrodias) October 13, 2016

@rustybrick That's fine–still think they'll have to use the desktop index to supplement the shortage of link signals, etc. in mobile.

— Scott Cowley (@scottcowley) October 13, 2016

@rustybrick Seems like they might have to use link signals from desktop & then combine with other signals for mobile? Not enough from mob.

— Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe) October 13, 2016

@rustybrick For those clients who still want ranking reports, will have to deliver two now – mobile & desktop.. yeah?

— David Wallace (@DavidWallace) October 13, 2016

which really fckn sucks when 97% of all your traffic is desktop and 100% of converting traffic is desktop.

— Don Rhoades (@TheGonzoSEO) October 13, 2016

We have reached out to Google with dozens of questions about this mobile index. As soon as we hear back, we will post an FAQ on the topic.

About The Author

Barry Schwartz is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry can be followed on social media at @rustybrick, +BarrySchwartz and Facebook. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio and disclosures, click over here.


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