Google Splits Off Mobile Index: What Does This Mean?

by | Last updated Jun 21, 2022 | SEO

It’s been just over a year since Google launched their Accelerated Mobile Pages (or AMP) project and released the mobile-friendly algorithm, both of which were aimed at creating a better mobile web. Now, after comments made by Gary Ilyes at Pubcon in October, Google is taking yet another step forward toward developing a mobile-first internet by finally splitting the desktop and mobile search index.

This split is Google’s way of telling people that mobile is the priority. It’s just the continued progression of the way of the world, predicated on the fact that nearly 27% of people use a smartphone as their means of searching compared to 14% on desktop, according to Google. This split isn’t a scoff at desktop, but merely a necessity to serving mobile users with the best information.

What Will Splitting Google’s Index Do?

The split, in thought, will be a vast improvement from the desktop-centric index that consumers are already used to, but they may not notice it as much as businesses that are hoping to be found in search.

Where consumers will be met with more websites that are mobile-friendly, businesses may now have the final push to become more focused on mobile than before.

A Stronger Push with Mobile-Friendly Design

Getting websites ready for a mobile-first world has been a topic of conversation for the last few years. In fact, it’s a subject we’ve covered in some way, time and again. But for whatever reason, the number of non-mobile-friendly websites, which was as high as 82% of the top 1, 000 websites in 2014, doesn’t seem to be shrinking.

As we’re forced to shift our focus toward the idea of a mobile-first index, businesses that are currently still holding out on a mobile-ready website and have yet to see a fall from their search engine rankings may finally get the boot. This may not seem like a positive to businesses, but it is.

By moving to a mobile-friendly website, you’re putting your business in a better position to succeed. Consumers expect websites to work on their mobile devices, and when they doesn’t—specifically when it doesn’t load in less than three seconds—they will leave for a competing site. Google has been trying with all their might to push businesses toward the idea of mobile for nearly two years, and this looks to be the final straw.

Provide Better Mobile Search Results

When you couple a mobile-centered index with a focus on getting people to switch to a mobile-friendly design (finally), you should come out with better mobile results. Of course, this isn’t going to be the case 100% of the time, but too often, the mobile algorithm has allowed what would be considered desktop-only websites to fall through the cracks and take top positions from websites that perform better on mobile.

Users will no longer need to rely on the previously tried “Mobile Friendly” marker that accompanied search results on mobile.

Send AMP into the Mainstream

In some ways, the AMP project has felt a bit like that indie band you love and tell all your friends about before they hit it big. For anyone who has known about it, taken advantage of it, or at least noticed it in search, you feel a connection toward this new version of the mobile web.

AMP has been showing up more often in search results via mobile devices than ever before, thanks to publishers utilizing it and from Google’s current indexing system finding and sharing those stories.

The potential increase in websites utilizing AMP across the board or just for their content may be one of the biggest impacts that this new mobile index will bring. As consumers want to be able to get information quicker, AMP provides businesses the opportunity to do that without losing any credibility. AMP is a separate entity from your website, where desktop users will get the full website or page of content while mobile will only receive what’s necessary, which is the words on the page.

As Google does with any of their new algorithms or index changes, this will not be an overnight flip of the switch. Mobile users in the coming weeks may start to see different results and businesses may begin to see changes, both good and bad, in their overall search visibility as this rolls out.

But since this is a major shift, don’t take them changing as a mere suggestion to finally update to a mobile-ready website. Take it instead as a final warning—that if you truly want to be found online today through Google, you’ll be sure to provide consumers with the best option you can.

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