Google Announce New Search Index

24 October 2016

Google Announce New Search Index

Google have announced it is splitting search index into separate versions:

1. A rapidly updated mobile index – the primary index
2. A secondary index for desktop searches

At present, Google have a single index of search results, meaning one data source provides results for all searches, whether the search is coming from desktop or mobile. However, the search giant has recently announced that a separate index for mobile searches will be released in the next few months, according to Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes.

Interestingly, the mobile index will become the primary index for responding to queries, whilst the desktop index will be maintained but is not expected to be as up to date as the mobile one. With plans to keep the mobile index more up to date than the desktop index, mobile users will be getting the best results faster than desktop users. This mobile-first approach is reflective of search engine usage, since the majority of queries now come from mobile, although desktop searches of course represent a significant volume.

We’ve discussed before that Google are finally beginning to move to a mobile-first approach, with changes such as dropping side bar ads, left in the wake of the likes of Facebook and Instagram who have long changed their positioning to think mobile-first, reflecting the way consumers are behaving and in particular consuming digital content. Last year, ‘mobilegeddon’ was announced, were Google stated they would be giving preference to mobile friendly sites when users search on mobiles. More recently, Accelerated Mobile Pages were rolled out, another move towards bettering the search experience for mobile searchers.

There’s much speculation about what this actually means right now, some of the unknowns include:

  • Will the mobile index only contain mobile-friendly content?
  • Will the primary (mobile) index really not be used for desktop searches?
  • If the desktop is updated less regularly, how out of date will it be?

What we can be confident about is that when the mobile index launches – reportedly in a few months – there is certainly a potential that the two indexes will use different algorithms to determine rankings.

This means if you want to have your site properly indexed by Google, it’s essential to have a mobile-friendly website.