Googles switch to separate mobile index a market shake-up

Thursday, 3rd November 2016

Google's latest announcement will force responsive design to the top of the pile

Google’s announcement last week that they will soon be switching to a mobile-first index – meaning they’ll be indexing mobile pages as their primary function, rather than desktop pages – is a major wake-up call to anyone operating a non-responsive or purely desktop website.

Most mobile versions of desktop sites have certain structural functionality and/or information stripped out of the site to make it lighter, as mobile browsers are even more impatient on loading times than the already-impatient desktop users.

However, Google’s announcement now means that your site pretty much has to contain all the relevant and up-to-date information the mobile browser is expecting when conducting a search.

In practical terms, it means that if your mobile site doesn’t contain enough of, or exactly the same amount of information as your desktop version, or (heaven forbid) you don’t have a mobile site, Google is going to pull the rug out from under your ranking for search…

It’s a little bit of carrot-and-stick from Google, in that – while mobile browsing is the predominant user behaviour these days (way more than 50%) – the search engine giant is now kind of forcing those without mobile sites to ‘get with the programme’, and desktop browsers to follow suite.

What does this mean for you?

In simple terms, those businesses with responsive websites should be absolutely fine – sites that contain the same information for desktop and mobile versions, and can scale according to user device slot neatly into Google’s idea of the best solution.

If you’ve got two separate versions of your site, however, you need to ensure that all your structured data is present on both – use Google Search Console’s Fetch and Render functionality to test exactly what Google sees on your mobile version.

But ultimately, responsive design is set to become the only, not just the best way to present your business in the online environment.

 

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