According to a leading employee at Google, the search giants are currently in the process of splitting their single search index into two separate indices, one for mobile and the other for desktop.
What is Google's "search index"?
The search index refers to the directory Google has of the entire internet which it crawls using its search engine technology. So, theoretically, every page on the entire internet is going to be in that search index, barring the pages that have been removed due to a manual action penalty assessed by Google or the pages so new they have not yet been indexed.
What exactly is Google doing?
They are splitting their index into two separate indices, one for mobile and one for desktop. Of the two, the mobile index will be the primary and the most frequently updated. The desktop index will be secondary and not updated nearly so often.
It's hard to say what exactly this is going to mean in practice, but one thing seems virtually certain: The mobile search results will be based on the mobile index, meaning sites that are not mobile-friendly will not even appear in mobile search results.
Why is Google making this move?
Google is moving forward more aggressively with their mobile-first approach to the web. They recently scrapped the "mobile-friendly" label from the search result page on mobile and now we know why. If they create an entire index exclusively for the mobile web that only catalogs mobile-friendly pages, then they don't need to flag mobile-friendly pages because every page in the search results will be mobile-friendly.
The other piece here is that as mobile continues to overtake desktop as a more common device for accessing the internet, it will become more and more important for companies to build their websites primarily for mobile users and think of desktop users as secondary.
What does this mean for apartment marketers?
It means more of the same: You can't ignore mobile anymore. If your website is not mobile-friendly you are going to have enormous problems. For starters, you'll instantly become invisible to about half of your website visitors. (Our data says that roughly half of all apartment website traffic comes from mobile devices.)
As Google continues to transition to a mobile-first strategy, webmasters need to adapt. So this means studying mobile design, working with dev teams to produce mobile-friendly content, and so on. Mobile is not an optional, that'd-be-nice add on. It's essential to your modern apartment marketing strategy.