In an acknowledgement of the growing importance of mobile in search, Google is separating its index in separate mobile and desktop versions, while making the former the primary index. Business Insider reported that while Google regularly makes changes to its index, this is a particularly big one.
The now-primary mobile index will be kept more up-to-date than the desktop index. Thus for the same search, results you see on a smartphone will be different from what you see on a desktop.
So what does this mean for merchants?
Andrew Belsky, Director, U.S. Digital Marketing Services for ChannelAdvisor, said when consumers search on mobile they’re only going to see sites categorized under Google’s mobile index.
“That means if a merchant’s site isn’t mobile friendly it will not appear in search,” said Belsky. “Looking across our client base, we’re still seeing tremendous growth from mobile and not being there is a huge missed opportunity.”
Belsky said it is in a merchant’s best interest to create a mobile site to capture these searches. If you already have a mobile site this change should be a great reminder to make sure it is optimized.
Up until this change, Google has only indexed search on desktop websites, Business Insider reported. When consumers search on a smartphone, Google will provide the same result one would get if they were on a desktop, even though what it shows you is a list of mobile sites.
This wouldn’t be so much of an issue if mobile sites were exactly the same in terms of content as the desktop site, Business Insider noted. But for many this is simply not the case. In an effort to make websites load quicker on a mobile device, many will strip down the amount of content on their mobile site by removing words and pages.