This week: Google is creating a separate mobile index, a new AMP testing tool allows you to check your pages for compliance, and the Penguin rollout is finally complete.
Here’s what happened this week in SEO.
Google Will Separate the Mobile and Desktop Indices
Soon, Google will create a separate mobile index that will act as the main index for handling search queries.
The search giant will also maintain a separate desktop index, but it won’t be as up-to-date as the mobile index.
At a keynote address during Pubcon, Google’s Gary Illyes said that the change will happen within “months.”
Google telegraphed that it would create a mobile index last year during SMX East. Now, it appears that the company is on the verge of making it happen.
It’s unclear at this time how a separate mobile index will function. Will it only contain mobile-friendly links? And exactly how out-of-date will the desktop index be?
When the separate index is finally implemented, Google will most likely run its ranking algorithm across mobile content as opposed to using desktop content to determine mobile rankings.
Google Launches New AMP Testing Tool
As we report here about once a week, Google is obsessed with Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). That’s because AMP loads web pages in lightning-fast time on a mobile device.
Now, Google has released a testing tool so that you can be certain that your AMP pages are crossing all the t’s and dotting all the i’s.
Just head over to the tool and plug in the URL of an AMPed up page. Google will crawl the page and let you know if there are any problems.
As is usually the case with Google tools, if there are any problems, the tool will not only tell you where they are, but also how to fix them.
The Penguin 4.0 Rollout Is Complete
You can breathe a sigh of relief now. The latest Penguin rollout is complete.
According to Gary Illyes, the updated algorithm has been deployed to all of Google’s data centers.
Now that the rollout is finished, sites that saw a decrease in rank because of the previous version of Penguin should move back up in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Google: Penguin Looks at the Source Site When Devaluing Links
As you probably know, the Penguin algorithm is a spam-buster. It’s meant to determine if sites are trying to manipulate search engine rank with excessive and cheap backlinks.
But how does Google determine if a backlink is cheap? It looks at the source site.
That’s according to Gary Illyes, who participated in a conversation with Marketing Land earlier this week.
The algorithm uses signals to determine if the site is likely to host backlink spam.
But what are the specific criteria for making that determination? Illyes didn’t want to say, for obvious reasons.
“I don’t actually want to reveal more of those spam signals because I think they would be pretty, I wouldn’t say easy to spam, but they would easy to mess with,” he said. “And I really don’t want that.”
Illyes also once again emphasized that the latest iteration of Penguin devalues links. It doesn’t demote sites.
“The good thing is that it is discounting the links, basically ignoring the links instead of the demoting,” he said.
Google: Penguin Can Discount All Links (Even Good Ones)
If you think that you can risk a little backlink spam now that Penguin simply devalues bad backlinks rather than demoting the whole site, think again.
Google might devalue all your links (even the good ones), if the search engine receives signals that you’re trying to artificially boost your rank.
That’s based on a statement made at Pubcon this week by Gary Illyes.
Bottom line: even with the new Penguin showing itself a little friendlier than previous versions, it’s really a good idea to play by the rules.
Reminder: Panda Can Still Demote a Site
This week, we got a reminder that Google’s Panda algorithm can still demote a site.
As we’ve seen in this space repeatedly, the new Penguin algorithm doesn’t demote a site. It just devalues spammy backlinks.
The Panda algorithm, on the other hand, can still demote a site.
This week on Twitter, Gary Illyes, who’s apparently destined to make an appearance in every subsection in this article, confirmed on Twitter that “panda adjusts ranking of pages based on the quality of the site.”
Panda, in case you’re unaware, is the algorithm that ranks sites based on content quality.