Google’s ‘search index’ is their metaphorical magic beans, and Google is quite literally built on top of it. In what may herald one of the largest single changes to Google’s search index ever, the search giant announced at a recent conference that they will be switching their ‘primary’ search index from the “desktop” optimised version to a “mobile” optimised one.
What does this mean? No one really knows for sure. What we do know is that the primary mobile first index will be the most up-to-date version and will only contain “mobile friendly links”, and the secondary desktop index will still be available but it will not be as current. Exactly what this means for search from desktop really remains a mystery.
For sites, like Ausdroid, that have identical content on both the mobile and desktop web there should be little to no difference, we expect that the site will be indexed exactly the same and searches from any form factor should return identical results, just displayed in the appropriate way for the form factor. However, not all sites offer all content across mobile and desktop. I can recall many instances of having either access a site from the desktop or worse access the desktop site from a mobile, to gain access to a function or content I knew the site offered.
Perhaps this inconsistency is what Google is targeting. Google has been known to use their search rank as a hammer to force the web to embrace change. Could it be in Google’s mobile optimised future they want to migrate all web content owners to offer fully dynamically responsive sites? Whilst I am not sure if I agree with Google using its powers in this way, assuming they are, I can’t argue with the potential results, if web usage is truly mobile first then I see why search results should be too.