Better Get Your Website Mobile Friendly Now
Google will soon split its index of web pages into two separate ones: one for desktop and one for mobile.
And the mobile one will be primary: Google will be updating it frequently while they will update the desktop index less often. This is a reflection of the fact that more than half of all searches are done on phones now—and the ratio of phone to desktop searches is continuing to increase.
According to Gary Illyes, a Google webmaster trends analyst, Google will make the change “within months” and will leave the desktop index somewhat less up-to-date than the mobile one.
So what does this actually mean?
The biggest impact of this is likely to be on websites that have separate mobile and desktop versions. The two website versions will be indexed and evaluated separately as if they’re different websites … because sometimes they are. Separate mobile pages are often optimized differently from desktop pages, so search rankings may differ dramatically depending on whether a customer searches for you from their desktop/laptop or their phone.
If your site is “responsive”, meaning your pages adjust how they display depending on the device looking at them, you ought to be okay since the content is always the same.
However, if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, your ranking penalty when customers search from their phones will get worse. Possibly much worse, though Google hasn’t actually claimed that yet.
Joost de Valk, who runs search engine firm Yoast.com and author of the highly recommended Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress, recently said this move makes sense.
I think in part it is about pushing people to change their sites to be responsive rather than having a separate desktop and mobile site. By saying that their mobile index is more important, it will push people to focus on their mobile sites.
This bears watching, but if you’re a little late in making your website responsive, now’s the time to get on the stick and do it.
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