Google webmaster analyst Gary Illyes unveiled Google’s new search index concept at the October 2016 Pubcon marketing conference in Las Vegas. The upshot:  Google will soon have both a mobile index as well as a desktop index.

Mobile websites are ranked higher than their desktop versions

For the first time, Google’s search algorithm will prioritize a searched website’s mobile version over its desktop version. Up until now, the search index primarily concentrated on the desktop version of a website. This customization toward mobility reflects Google’s prioritizing the needs of its users.  With more than 50% of Google search requests done on mobile devices, it’s no wonder.

Mobile and desktop versions have to match

The content of many mobile website versions – if a mobile version even exists – is not identical with the content found on desktop versions.  In the future, Google will “sanction” this conflict in content with a website’s loss in ranking.  As a result, you should be aware that:

  • robots.txt should support the mobile version while crawling
  • the content of both versions should be structured identically in order to keep content identical. Structured data supports the Google bot and results in better search results in the long term.
  • content should be displayed in a mobile-friendly way.

The take away

The Google rankings of those who have already adapted to the demands of responsive design and have incorporated this into their website(s)  will not be negatively influenced.

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