Reindexing for mobile: Is this Google's most brutal move yet?

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Is your website ready?
By Darren Burton, contributor. 22 December, 2016
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Is our website mobile-friendly? That should be the question businesses ask as Google moves into a new phase of indexing, showing preference to websites optimised for mobile devices in search results.

Google's latest priority

With around 1.9 billion people using smartphones to access the internet, Google has moved into a testing phase that gives priority to mobile sites over websites designed for desktop only. According to TechCrunch, Google will now penalise sites that aren’t easy to view or navigate on a mobile device. While the search giant still plans to index the latter, sites that are not responsive in nature – as in, the site doesn’t adjust to fit different screen sizes and orientation – will be relegated to the bottom of search results with preference given to websites optimised for mobile users.

Improved user experience

It’s advisable for businesses to create mobile-specific versions of their sites, or at the very least, have a website framework that is responsive rather than static. With the emphasis now on mobile, will videos need to be shot in portrait mode instead of landscape? Not necessarily. As mobiles can be rotated to view web pages in landscape mode, websites that are designed on a responsive platform or created specifically for mobile devices will naturally respond to the screen’s orientation, allowing for the viewing of videos in landscape.

Sites that are not responsive in nature will be relegated to the bottom of search results with preference given to websites optimised for mobile users

Voice vs typed search queries

Due to the growing trend of using mobile phones to access the internet, more search queries are now being initiated via voice commands instead of being typed. According to Sensis, Google claims 20% of all searches on their platform are now voice searches and that figure is growing every year. Google states 55% of teens and 40% of adults use voice search at least once a day.

What does this mean for the future of SEO?

It means search queries are becoming more specific with intuitive results. When people type a query into Google it tends to be abbreviated (most of us are lazy typists), but with voice queries the search string is usually longer. Popular keywords used for typing a query into Google may not be so popular for voice queries, as these are generally more detailed and specific.Google’s new Pixel Phone has built-in Google Assistant (their answer to Apple’s Siri), and there has been some conjecture about whether this is the reason behind Google’s push to favour mobile websites over desktop versions. So far there is no evidence to either confirm or deny this, but it is a definite possible motivator behind the change.

Could Asia be the reason?

According to Internet Society one-third of Southeast Asia's population accesses the internet via mobile device. In the under 25 age bracket, that figure skyrockets to 90%. A video on Bloomberg features Google’s president of APAC operations, Karim Temsamani, explaining the company has recently set up a new HQ in Singapore as their base of operations to target the “next billion internet users in Asia”, and that the majority of these users access the internet via mobile device. Whether or not Google admits this is the reason behind their radical index changes favouring mobile websites, the evidence is certainly mounting.

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Darren has been writing in one form or another for more than 30 years. He has worked as a feature writer, copywriter and content writer. Although his writing is mostly focused on content marketing these days, he also has a passion for writing fiction and has published several eBooks. Darren divides his time between writing, internet marketing and his latest passion; composing and producing music for music licensing and sync licensing.