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Google To Divide Its Index, Giving Mobile Users Better and Fresher Content (searchengineland.com) 113

Desktop Google searches could soon feel slightly out of touch compared to those done via smartphones as the company begins to push mobile search. Google has said it is fully splitting its search index into two versions: a rapid updated mobile one, and a secondary search index for the desktop web. SearchEngineLand reports: The news came today during a keynote address from Gary Illyes, a webmaster trends analyst with Google, at Pubcon. Illyes didn't give a timeline in his talk, but in a follow-up with Search Engine Land, he confirmed that it would happen within "months." Google first announced that it was experimenting with the idea of a mobile index last year at SMX East. Since that time, Google's clearly decided that a mobile index makes sense and is moving ahead with the idea. It's unclear exactly how the mobile index will work. For example, since the mobile index is the "primary" index, will it really not be used for any desktop queries? Will it only contain "mobile-friendly" content? How out-of-date will the desktop index be? Desktop usage is now a minority of Google queries but still generates substantial usage. The most substantial change will likely be that by having a mobile index, Google can run its ranking algorithm in a different fashion across "pure" mobile content rather than the current system that extracts data from desktop content to determine mobile rankings.
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Google To Divide Its Index, Giving Mobile Users Better and Fresher Content

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  • What's the point? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by phresno ( 677793 ) on Friday October 14, 2016 @10:02AM (#53075591)

    Won't this simply push desktop users to use the mobile site, and if needs be, spoof their browser identifier?

    • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Friday October 14, 2016 @10:42AM (#53075755)

      Won't this simply push desktop users to use the mobile site, and if needs be, spoof their browser identifier?

      Speaking of the point, let's be clear here. Users won't get "pushed" in any direction that isn't set up as the default anyway, because we all know that users are too damn lazy to put forth an effort otherwise.

      Spoof the browser? Yeah right. Unless that additional effort is going to unlock more Netflix content, users won't be doing that shit either.

      • by phresno ( 677793 )

        That's exactly what I'm driving at. If the content and experience is better on the mobile version, assuming it's not prioritizing mobile only content, why wouldn't users want the better set of results. Push may not be the operative word. Semantics aside, Google didn't become popular because it was the default option in a browser. The fight for 'default search' status came after Google gained popularity against other large search engines.

        • by hodet ( 620484 ) on Friday October 14, 2016 @11:44AM (#53076059)

          "... If the content and experience is better on the mobile version."

          That will be a cold day in hell.

        • by castus ( 4552487 )

          why wouldn't users want the better set of results

          Because the are lazy and don't care. They just want to google something and get some kind of result (or an ad, I'm not sure if they can tell the difference).

        • For that matter what do they mean by mobile. What about tablets and ultrabooks that without any issues render the desktop or mobile version of a site without any problems, which index are they going to be placed on. What is going to be part of this new mobile index? Searches through the Google app or will using the website through a browser also work? What about if I set my browser to request the desktop version of sites? For situations like when I'm using wikia or certain forum sites that purposly hobble
    • Won't this simply push desktop users to use the mobile site, and if needs be, spoof their browser identifier?

      Well, I do the exact opposite: when connecting from an ARM computer, be it a laptop or a SoC, I get a useless "mobile" pages on many websites. Some will notice NoScript and redirect to the normal version because javascript is ubiquitely required for mobile crap, but for many, you need to spoof for sanity.

    • by skids ( 119237 )

      A browser "open in tab as mobile device" option seems more inevitable each passing year, sadly.

      • by castus ( 4552487 )
        It seems inevitable because it has already happened.
        https://developers.google.com/... [google.com]
    • I often have my phone identify as a desktop browser so that sites look familiar... now I have to switch back and forth for the "best" search?

      And what does StartPage look like to Google?
    • Re:What's the point? (Score:4, Informative)

      by friesofdoom ( 3817155 ) on Friday October 14, 2016 @02:41PM (#53077175)
      Holy crap. The amount of effort I have put in trying to make my mobile browser consistently retrieve the desktop versions of pages, making the desktop browser willingly request the mobile version is purely unfathomable to me. I think I would actually rather die.

      But on the bright side this might be the queue for some of the other search engines to step up their game and reclaim some of the desktop market...

      Fuck google.
    • Won't this simply push desktop users to use the mobile site, and if needs be, spoof their browser identifier?

      for good politically untampered and unmonitored search results switch out of google altogether .
      start with duckduckgo.com which has improved greatly during past year.

    • uhuh,
      i thought about the same when i saw this , like
      curl the cruel [stackoverflow.com]
      but what im really wondering is why bother spliiting a search up into two's instead of one single optimized ... far be it from me to challenge the tek-savvy of the 1e100 but i dont know it seems
      i dunno ... sure there will be reasons ... sounds like discrimination to me if you ask me, probably a good reason for money hungry EU and US officials to suit up and law them with a court of tax or something
  • by Anonymous Coward

    What a daft idea. I'm sat at a £3000 computer but need to use my £100 phone to get the best results? Plus I'll have look twice as search anxiety will mean I'll worry about missing a result.
    After they dropped classic maps It's like they want people to use bing!

    • by lhowaf ( 3348065 )
      I think the mobile index is best suited for information consumers while the desktop index is better suited for information producers.
      I'm fine using the dumbshit index while on-the-go but I want real results when I'm working at the desktop.
  • Their mobile service is awful as it keeps sending you to the awful abomination known as AMP.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    What's the point of even having dissonance in their search results?

  • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Friday October 14, 2016 @10:23AM (#53075667)

    I'm confused by this. Is Google really going to make it's mobile search "better" or more "up-to-date," which not improving the desktop version? What's the motivation here -- to annoy desktop users?

    Or is this more about optimization of some sort, i.e., that mobile users perhaps "prefer" different types of results (according to Google's algorithms), so they're trying to provide those mobile users with something a little more customized?

    Well, regardless, I've never understood Google ever since they broke verbatim search (the ways it breaks have gotten progressively worse over the last 10 years or so). I can understand that most folks can't figure out how to use actual full-text search. But for those of us who actually do know and realize it's generally the most efficient and fastest way to find precisely tailored results, I don't understand why Google wouldn't even provide an option. Oh well...

    (P.S. For those of you who still think "verbatim" exists, it fails in all sorts of cases. Trust me, or go to the Google discussion forums about this and you'll see thousands of complaints about where it fails. You can try the intext: or allintext: operators, which are generally better than Google's current version of verbatim, but they still break in all sorts of unpredictable ways.)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Google is apparently following in Apple's footsteps, doing everything it can to make its products worse. Apple's removal of the headphone jack is only one of many "screw you" practices. Today I learned that Android Marshmallow no longer supports mounting the phone as usb storage, requiring you to use MTP protocol app to copy your files to the desktop. Thus destroying pretty much the only use case for a phone other than dialing. Now Google no longer wants desktop users to use its search. Am I surprized? No.

    • by jhecht ( 143058 )
      The more opaque Google gets, the harder it becomes to rely on their searches. User-specified options would help. Do you want a person, a place, a product? Do you want a fact search with a mobile display because you're discussing some arcane bit of history with a friend? As long as Google controls all the options, the search process remains opaque and becomes increasingly difficult to interpret.
    • I love how it drops out the most important key word because there are not enough results... "Ubuntu? Who uses that. I will show you Win7 results instead..."
      • That is absolutely the most infuriating thing ever.

        Even after having just added a certain keyword to refine the search, Google sometimes plainly refuses to include it in the top results and shows me the same list I just clearly indicated did not answer my query by adding another keyword.

    • I can understand that most folks can't figure out how to use actual full-text search. But for those of us who actually do know and realize it's generally the most efficient and fastest way to find precisely tailored results

      I'm not convinced that this is the case. Actual full-text search is great when you're looking for something which will match very few pages, which is true only if the precise set of terms being searched for is rare, either because some of the terms are rare, or because their particular combination is rare. If neither of those are true, then what you really need is a search engine that can understand the context of your query, and give you that. And that is precisely what Google is evolving towards.

      The wa

    • What's the motivation here -- to annoy desktop users?

      Maybe the opposite. Remember Google's next move is going to affect the pagerank of search results which don't provide a mobile interface. As a desktop user I couldn't care less about this. It makes sense to split the rankings.

      • by green1 ( 322787 )

        As a mobile user, I prefer sites which do NOT have a mobile interface.
        I have never found a single website that is better with it's "mobile" version than it's full version on my phone. It is ALWAYS better to have the full desktop site on my phone. Every single time.

        If I could down rank every single "mobile compatible" page I would.

        • Really? I find thousands. From simple things like being unable to log in, or have either text or content obscured by the layout, to completely broken layouts, or even simple things like not wanting to load a 10MB page on my mobile contract (check how much traffic it uses loading the Slashdot home page on a browser vs a phone and then look at how lean Slashdot on the desktop is compared to most of the web).

          If you think it's always better then you can firmly sit in the crazy camp. Use a user agent switching e

    • It's part of a concerted effort of major tech companies to make the desktop experience suck. Microsoft is a huge believer of this strategy, their contributions include: forcing parts of UI in Windows to always show touch-optimized interfaces despite the device is running on having no touch screen, making some programs and services so that they can't be turned off (Cortana), pushing ads on PCs, etc.
      I get that desktop users are (on their way to being) a minority, I don't ask for preferential treatment just g
  • by codeButcher ( 223668 ) on Friday October 14, 2016 @10:36AM (#53075729)

    The idea is to install a mobile app. Same as with e.g. FB - there are www and m website versions, but also apps. Same with many other companies.
    Why? Because an app can have access to more data on your mobile, which a website can't (yet) reach.

    At least, that's what I think.

    • The idea is to install a mobile app.

      They've offered a mobile app for years - I just don't think very many people use it (because why would you install an app for a web search?)

    • Because an app can have access to more data on your mobile, which a website can't (yet) reach.

      One reason I do not install apps. And when you strip functionality because I am on a phone, I will stop using it, not install the app...

      • And when you strip functionality because I am on a phone, I will stop using it, not install the app...

        Exactly.

  • Have number of such indexes, default defferently for desktop vs mobile, but let the user have ultimate choice.

  • Particularly since you don't exactly tell the 600 lb gorilla on the bus where they can't sit.
    • by wbr1 ( 2538558 )
      How does this have anything to do with net neutrality? NN is about treating packets the same, not search results. A company providing search results is under no obligation to fairly treat search results, as is evidenced by promoted results appearing above actual results.

      The option here is to go to another search provider if you do not like it. With NN, the object is to protect network users from their traffic being deprioritized in ways they cannot control.

    • What the hell has this got to do with net neutrality? If you believe that we should force identical content to be delivered to desktops and mobiles we either would have screwed up the desktop, killed the smartphone on its inception.

  • Google is a snorky dingle dong with the face of a butt.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Am I the only one that sees this as a move to punish desktop users (where Google has no usage quota) and reward mobile users (where Google has the biggest share)?

    If Microsoft did this, we would be all over them for it - and with a reason. Why do Google and Apple get away with making anti-competitive moves that only hurt users?

  • by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Friday October 14, 2016 @11:58AM (#53076137)

    Right now Google lower-ranks your site for a variety of reasons relating to "but it doesn't work on a phone [crying sound]." While it makes sense to optimize for a phone normally (if trying to reach the largest audience), there are many cases where it actually hurts the site. I wonder if this means that the desktop index will remove those prioritization, allowing some of the old, but gold, content to bubble back up.

    Also, I think Google using their monopoly power to decide how "popular" or "relevant" your site is to a search by if it cottons to their favored development styles is a pretty clear anti-trust violation.

    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by green1 ( 322787 )

      Right now Google lower-ranks your site for a variety of reasons relating to "but it doesn't work on a phone [crying sound]." While it makes sense to optimize for a phone normally (if trying to reach the largest audience), there are many cases where it actually hurts the site.

      And by "many" times, you mean, "every single time" right? I have NEVER, not a single time, found a "mobile" version of a webpage that I like better on my phone than the full desktop version. Mobile sites need to die a horrible death.

      I wonder if this means that the desktop index will remove those prioritization, allowing some of the old, but gold, content to bubble back up.

      If true, I will definitely find a way to get my phone to use the desktop index, because if there's any possible way to eliminate "mobile friendly" sites from destroying the browsing experience on my phone, I'm all for it!

  • Google might be priming the pump for PC users to move to Andromeda, once Android is fully mated with Chromebooks. Mobile search will likely work perfectly on Google OS's. Google, Microsoft, and Apple all suck these days. Not one of them takes user experiences seriously. You get what they want you to have, not what you really want.
  • Fuck mobile (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    First it ruined web "design" by giving us huge fonts, mystery navigation and full width text. Now it's going to ruin search too? I'm gonna make my own internet, and none of you millenial shitsters are invited.

  • by epine ( 68316 ) on Friday October 14, 2016 @01:20PM (#53076679)

    This might actually be more about the crawl than the index. The mobile index could be set to crawl content in mobile format only, and more often.

    What makes freshness important, in the first place? Mostly celebrity gossip, and the retail deal of the hour. Neither of those are functions people do much on PCs anyway.

    Still, if Google decides not to keep long-form content reasonably fresh (if not fresher) in their desktop index, it foreshadows a Yahooesque self-inflicted extinction event of their traditional core brand.

  • Is it upside down day at googlopia?

  • What Google needs to go is provide an easy way to eliminate Pinterest results. That god damn site is taking over search restults, and it's useless without signing up.

    #fuckpinterest

  • The unemployment rate for software developers is somewhere around 2.6%. That is a rate so low, that if you're a decent developer and can't get a job, you're doing it wrong, or perhaps living in the wrong city. When I had to look for a job this past summer, I was able to get interviews with four different companies within a couple of weeks, and was hired in a couple more, and that's despite being 50 years old!

    It's always stressful to be in a layoff. I've been in several myself. But we're certainly not in

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