Gary Illyes, a Google webmaster trend analyst, announced that Google plans to release a separate mobile search index which will become the primary index Google will use to respond to search queries. As part of the update, there will be a separate desktop index but Google will not update it as often as the mobile index.
WHAT WILL CHANGE?
Mobile search rankings in Google will be universally changed. Google will be able to more accurately prioritize how it applies ranking factors by device type, which means the set of factors that rank one result on desktop could be very different from the factors ranking the same keyword on mobile.
There are a lot of unknowns right now, but the existing mobile-specific factors are related to site speed and how the page looks (font sizes and readability, ads above-the-fold, content that does not scale properly).
A mobile-specific algorithm is going to apply Google’s existing ranking factors to desktop content to determine relevance and value. Shorter, more to-the-point content will likely get preference on mobile; video formatting will likely increase in value.
WHEN WILL IT CHANGE?
It is unclear as to when Google plans to roll out the new engine but Illyes confirmed it will happen within months.
WHAT ARE GOOGLE’S MOTIVES?
Improving search result relevance and the search experience for users is always at the core of any organic algorithm update. There are more mobile searches than desktop conducted each year, so Google is adjusting its ranking technology to meet user demands.
The move is also acknowledgement from Google that they know search intent and behavior is very different depending on the user’s device. People have different expectations for search results when they’re on mobile vs. desktop.
WHAT MARKETERS NEED TO KNOW
Mobile should be a critical part of your organic search strategy, and measuring mobile and desktop engagement is a must for determining organic visibility opportunity and success.
Learn how customers use mobile devices related to an industry, and what they value in a mobile website or app experience.
Create content and page designs that best cater to customers’ mobile-specific needs.
Satisfy Google’s existing mobile-specific factors. Improve site loading times and ensure all content and pages conform to the variety of devices.
Maximize the value of mobile devices by understanding their roll in a customer’s journey, and create content and strategies to meet those needs.
INFORMATION SOURCES: Search Engine Land