In November 2016, Google announced a shift in how they will rank and place search results based on a mobile-first experiment. By tweaking their systems to check in more detail for the different version of any given website, compared to desktop and mobile content, Google is hoping to provide even better search results for mobile users.
How this will be done is relatively simple; instead of Google using the content that desktop users see when visiting any given website, and ranking the pages on that, they will switch to crawling mobile results, and use that content to rank their sites instead.
What this means for webmasters out there has yet to be shown in full effect, as Google will adjust and change certain metrics over the coming few months, and as with anything related to their search queries, nothing is set in stone, and subject to change at their whim.
Currently, this is what website owners and bloggers should be aware of:
- If your desktop and mobile content differs, you might gain or lose rankings accordingly.
- Google will not have 2 indexes, one for desktop and one for mobile, meaning that they really are going Mobile First. (In other words, desktop users have been demoted.)
- If both desktop and mobile content are the same, there should be no visible changes based on your site alone, but you might still see changes based on the competitor movement in the search engine ranking placements.
- Pages with low-quality content on mobile devices stand a large chance of getting de-ranked, and Google states in cases like this it should be better to discontinue the mobile versions until they can rival the desktop versions. (Build up your mobile pages to be as good if not better than your desktop pages before pushing them live.)
Some onlookers had hoped for Google to announce they would add a second index that focused on mobile pages only, but currently Google will keep a single index and rank both desktop and mobile sites in that same dataset, meaning they won’t distinguish too much between the two, in terms of ranking signals.
When a Twitter user asked Gary Illyes, a senior developer at Google in charge of this implementation, when we could expect to see this live on a big scale, he replied: