In October of 2016 (hard to believe that it’s 2017 already), Google announced they finished their research and testing, and would move forward with splitting the desktop and mobile search indexes apart “within the next few months.” Rumor has it, that the day is looming, and it promises to be as impactful as “Mobilegeddon” was back in 2015.
When the mobile-friendly ranking took effect, SEOs and businesses worldwide watched sites plummet through rankings until things stabilized when big companies like eBay, who lost tons of search rank and millions of dollars in revenue after the update, finally added a mobile-friendly user interface.
Google has given everyone the tools and fair warning, but will the industry be ready?
The Rundown On Google’s Search Index Changes
Google previously operated several different crawler bots that would go out and look at websites through different types of devices: desktop, mobile and feature-phone. They’ve since decommissioned the feature-phone bot, and for a while had even paused the use of the mobile bot. All of the data collected by the bots was compiled into one single, master index of all websites. That index was then ranked based on the 200+ ranking criteria used by Google based on the various scoring algorithms.
In early 2015, Google boldly started to penalize sites for not having a mobile interface, a move which the industry dubbed “Mobilegeddon.” “Mobilegeddon 2.0” would be a fitting name for this move because the mobile index will become Google’s primary index, while the desktop index will be its slightly slower and less frequently updated brother.
If anything, this should serve as a clear indication of the shift in search volume between desktop and mobile, and once again stress the importance of being mobile-friendly. Google’s frequently stated goal of providing the best, most-relevant content to users makes it easy to understand this change, in context.
Is This the End of the World for Your Website?
While your site’s desktop rank may not change if you don’t have a mobile-friendly interface, yes, the end may be near unless you move quickly to mobile. Your site will be far less likely to appear in search results, especially on page one.
Word from Google suggests sites with responsive designs that retain all of the content will see little-to-no impact, while sites that offer a customized, stripped-down version for mobile will see themselves less and less in SERP (search engine results pages).
Stop Waiting to Move
No, Google did not provide a specific timeline beyond “the next few months,” but that was a few months ago. In the past, Google has shown once it tests this type of change and recommends tools, they move. Quickly.
The best thing you can do for your website is be sure you are ready when Google finally splits the search indexes apart. That way your customers will still be able to find you easily, regardless of which type of device they are using.
What Should You Do?
First, if you don’t have a mobile-friendly site, talk to GRIT. We build websites on a regular basis for our clients, and our goal is to have every site be ADA Level A and search optimized at launch.
Beyond that, you can talk to us about enabling some of Google’s other mobile-rank-boosting tools, such as Google AMP which helps Google deliver your site content faster to mobile users, while using less of their mobile data plan. Tools like AMP are easy to install on sites built in WordPress and can be a key differentiator within what will be a very competitive space for mobile ranking.
If you have a website that needs some TLC, or you’re ready to make the move to mobile, contact GRIT today!