FLINT – Here we go again. Another potential massive shake up with how Google structures their index and trust me on this, it will have an impact on your site’s rankings! Google is taking mobile-friendly to a new level.
All of this has to do with the seismic shift people are making to mobile. For the first time, according to an article by Search Engine Land there are more searches performed on a mobile device (phone or tablet) than from a desktop.
We’ve know about the growth of mobile and Google’s priority for this channel, for a while now. But, like many things in business, everyone seems to have been a bit slow to react.
Well, the time is here, and it’s going to be more important than ever for you to take e a serious look at your digital marketing strategy (yup, pull it out of that drawer and dust it off) and update the mobile chapter.
HOW GOOGLE WORKS
I’m going to get into exactly what has been happening, recently, with Google’s mobile focus and what you should be doing to prepare for what is about to happen.
But, first, let’s take a second to review how Google works. Don’t leave just yet; this will be a really quick and simple overview.
Google uses web-crawlers (bots) to discover and index trillions of web pages across the web. The process of the bot is to crawl a page, identify the topic of the page (via the content and code) and then follow the links on that page to another page (the page the link pointed to) and then repeat that same process again on the new page. At its core, a really simple process.
After the bot digests the information on a web page, the information on that web page is then entered into Google’s index which well over 100 million gigabytes, in size.
Just to put this into some perspective. The storage space on my laptop is about 500 gigabyte. Google’s index would require 200,000 of these laptops to hold it!
The current index was developed and has evolved in a desktop world which, as it is turning out, may not be well suited for a world that is quickly becoming dominated by mobile usage.
MOBILE-FRIENDLY, WE HAVE BEEN WARNED
Back in April of `15 Google released a huge mobile-friendly algorithm update that was built to give a boost to web pages in Google’s index, for mobile search results. In fact, this algorithm update was so big, larger than either the Panda update or the Penguin update, it’s been referred to as Mobilegeddon!
And, here’s the thing. Google told us that this was coming!
With this algorithm update, Google is looking at websites on a page-by-page basis to see if they are mobile-friendly. The algorithm then makes the determination that the page either is mobile-friendly or it isn’t mobile-friendly. There are no partially mobile-friendly pages. The pages on your site are deemed straight up yes or no.
As if this algorithm wasn’t enough, in May of `16 Google announced that they are going to boost the effects of this algorithm, increasing the impact of the mobile-friendly ranking signal.
Essentially, if your website’s pages are deemed not to be mobile-friendly, your search rank is going to take a hit!
SEPARATE & NOT EQUAL
Now, let’s take a look at Google’s most current revelation on this topic of mobile search. At Pubcon, Gary Illyes, a webmaster trends analysis with Google, told everyone that Google is creating a separate mobile index, within the coming months.
Gary then went on to indicate that this new and separate index may actually become the primary index with the desktop index (the current index) actually becoming the secondary index.
Being relegated to secondary index status means that the desktop index won’t be updated with the same frequency as the primary index, or most likely, the same frequency that it has been updated, to this point.
NOW DO I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION?
So, the first question you’re probably asking is, Why? Why is Google shaking everything up like this?
It all is coming back to what Google has been telling us for a couple of years, now. They are absolutely committed to ensuring that users have a positive experience, not just on Google’s site, but on any site that shows up high in Google’s rankings.
Because of the amazing growth of mobile usage, Google’s user experience is now laser-focused on making sure that users have a great mobile experience, as well.
So, with that being said, and with the fact that a majority of searches are now happening on a mobile device, it really kind of makes sense that Google is doing this.
Another reason that Google is moving toward a mobile index is really for data integrity. It seems that some of the data that Google feels is important for mobile ranking signals can’t be properly supported (ambiguity intended by Google) with the current index structure.
WHAT TO DO WITH ALL THIS
Now, you’re probably saying…Great information but now what?
The next step is to carve out some time in your schedule to
- Find out if your site is considered to be mobile-friendly by Google’s standards. Here is a link to Google’s mobile-friendly testing tool that will test your site to tell if it’s mobile-friendly.
- If it isn’t mobile-friendly get in-touch with your agency and get your site brought up to standards as fast as you can! But, do it the right way! Here’s what Google has to say about how to create a mobile-friendly website.
- If it is mobile-friendly, again by Google’s standards, then move to updating your digital strategy to include a mobile marketing strategy that will better align with Google’s mobile-friendly priorities.
- If your site is mobile-friendly and your strategy is up-to-date with Google’s mobile priorities then pat yourself on the back and go get a cup of coffee!
This column was written by Dale Keipert CEO of 360 Interactive. To email Dale, click on firstname.lastname@example.org.