Google is making a big change to its search algorithm – it is experimenting with making its search index mobile-first. According to the company, this will solve the problem where the mobile page tends to have less content that its desktop counterpart, because “our algorithms are not evaluating the actual page that is seen by a mobile searcher.”
The search index will eventually be migrated to primarily use the mobile version for all websites, for ranking pages, indexing sites and showing snippets in the results. Google mentions that it will experiment over the coming months on a small scale with a few websites, after which it will ramp up the change permanently. The company has suggested various steps for webmasters to follow to prepare for the change – for example – ensuring that the mobile site can be crawled by search bots.
Google has been focused on improving its mobile search for a while. In September 2015, Google and Twitter started working on an open source project (then also called AMP) which would show their users cached copies of their publishers’ websites. The company had rolled out this feature for mobile search results in India just last month, after having extended AMP to all its search results, including the Top stories section, in August this year.
One search to rule them all: Google has also been increasingly integrating various little features in its mobile search to try and ensure users don’t have to leave the search page at all. For example, in April, Google started displaying common health conditions and relevant medical facts as information cards in Hindi or English when a user queries for symptoms or health concerns through its search engine. In the same month, Google collaborated with FreemantleMedia Asia to let fans of shows like Idols, Got Talent and The X Factor vote for people they support across Asia from Google Search.
The company has also been offering flight timing, statuses, and even booking availability, right from its search engine. In January, it introduced a new feature that let users search, compare and book flights via its search engine. Earlier in June 2013, it also started offering flight status and timings on its search engine for Indian flights. It also offers features like definitions, a calculator, map routes, answers to random questions and even recipes straight from search.