What Does Mobile First Index Actually Mean?
The ball has dropped ever since Google’s Gary Illyes dropped his mobile first index announcement at Pubcon. Since then many people have been theorizing, speculating, panicking, and there is a lot of confusion about what exactly that means. The most iconic questions are –
Will desktop users get mobile sites? Do sites without the mobile friendly designation suffer? Do we have to change all of our canonical tags? How will Google handle the reduced token corpus? What the hell are tokens and a corpus? What is the exact function and importance of tokens and corpus?
Google is very clear on its part and has mentioned that are still figuring out exactly how to handle certain issues, but that is a bit of problem for many businesses who strongly rely on Google traffic to pay their bills. The following article covers various topics like, what exactly may change, how Google might handle problems and complaints, and what exactly some of these things mean.
First, Let’s Understand What “Indexing” Means?
We need to understand the difference between Crawling, Indexing, Retrieval, and Rankings – as all of these are the core parts of any search algorithm. It is very important to distinguish between them.
Crawling can be defined as the process through which Google follows links on the web to discover various pages. This is how they are most likely to discover your content and where they may also apply nofollow and disavow file rules.
The process of turning your web page into something a lot more usable and storing it in their database is known as Indexing. A lot of cool stuff like word vectors, ngrams, and all kinds of other awesome computer science stuff, happens here. Usually, Indexing is when a copy of your page is made in a format that’s useful to the ranking algorithm.
The very first step of the search query is Retrieval. Usually, it comes before ranking according to many people, but there’s a good chance that the actual algorithm does retrieval and ranking at the same time. Retrieval is as if the engine says “give me everything relevant to this query” literally! It is here when those word vectors and ngrams get put to use.
This is the most obsessed part of the algorithm. The results over here are based on whatever number of factors we’re arguing about today. Most of this probably happens during the retrieval phase itself. While some of the factors such as penalties, and speed, and mobile friendly happen after retrieval.
What Is Mobile First Indexing?
Google right now has just one index based on the desktop sites. With the help of Googlebot, it creates signals along with the desktop user agent. Google then crawls with their mobile Googlebot to gather mobile friendly and other signals – but they aren’t creating a new index based on the mobile site.
If a user searches Google (either desktop or mobile) the retrieval part of the algorithm immediately looks at the desktop index created by the Googlebot desktop crawler. Relevant results are shown that are based on the desktop index, and then are ranked based on the desktop index.
The mobile crawler collects mobile signals which are looked over by the Ranker that adjusts the rankings accordingly.
Like everything else these things also have their cons and has caused some problems. There are many cases where a user sees something in a snippet, clicks on the results. After that, the user gets redirected to the site’s mobile homepage that usually spawns an app store or newsletter popup. Only after reading the content on the screen the user realizes the content they saw in the search snippet isn’t actually available on the stripped down mobile version of the site. This is a bad user experience but a common norm on too many sites.
Google intends to avoid such bad user experience with this new change.
The general theory is that if the content isn’t important enough or up to the mark to be on your mobile site, then maybe you aren’t the most authoritative or relevant result for that content.
And once again Google works for the betterment of the digital world!animation-mattis-dovier-frnk-26BRNiATmtg6s1jC8