Google webmaster and trends analyst Gary Illyes has said Google is going to split its search index in two. In future, it will have a rapidly updated mobile index and a less frequently updated desktop one.
This could have potentially big implications for your website, if it isn’t optimised for mobile searches.
Mobile web traffic is on the rise. More and more people are switching from searching using a desktop computer to using mobile devices. It’s a leap made a lot easier with the widespread adoption of smartphones.
According to Statista, there are 4.61 billion mobile phone users across the globe. In a blog post, Google has said that the number of searches on mobile devices has now overtaken those from desktops.
A clear shift is happening in how people are using the internet, and how Google wants to optimise the experience of browsing the content they see.
What does this mean for you?
It means that you could potentially lose a lot of traffic to your website if it’s not optimised for mobile viewers. Your ranking in the Google search results for people searching with a desktop shouldn’t be affected. But, if your site isn’t optimised for mobile visitors, you’re positions in the mobile index will slip.
With more than half Google searches now carried out on mobile devices, that adds up to a lot of potential visitors you would be missing out on. There are two ways to optimise your site for mobile visitors.
A separate mobile site
You can have a separate mobile website, with the same content, but optimised for mobile searches. There are a number of ways this can be done. One way is to reduce the number of images and videos on the page, so it loads quicker and doesn’t take up as much data.
A responsive website
Or, you can make your website responsive. This is the more popular option. You create one site, which changes according to the screen size, so the content looks good at any size.
With a responsive website, you don’t have to maintain two websites. Also, you don’t have to worry about duplicate content.
However, this change doesn’t mean you should shift your focus solely to mobile and forget about desktop. Mobile traffic has only just started to overtake desktop traffic. There is still a very large user base searching Google on their desktops.
A healthy balance of search engine optimisation (SEO) is needed to keep both mobile and desktop users visiting your website.
Don’t worry, there’s still time
Google hasn’t given a solid timeframe on this split. It says it will be rolled out in ‘a matter of months’.
But you should change the way your website is indexed as soon as possible, to reap the full benefits of Google’s plans. Also, when it comes to SEO, it doesn’t hurt to be proactive.