What is ‘mobile-first indexing’?

The Google’s ranking system still considers desktop version of a page’s content to decide its relevance to the person searching (this will soon be history). Despite this, it is a recognition of the fact that majority of online searches now takes place via mobile devices.

The problem occurs when the actual mobile version of the page is vastly different from the desktop version page. To avoid such disappointments for mobile searchers, Google is experimenting with adopting a mobile first indexing strategy. In time, this will mean that the Google will primarily make use of the mobile version of a site’s content when deciding search result rankings. This will result in businesses having to adopt a mobile first strategy.

In simpler terms “Mobile first indexing is an indication that Google will consider as an overall mobile first approach when it comes to crawling and indexing the site.” An official announcement by Google can be seen here.

Mobile First Indexing

The impact of mobile first on your business

The Google mobile first index will mean your site is indexed and ranked based on the mobile experience, rather than desktop experiences. It will have a negative impact if your site isn’t consistent in mobile and desktop versions. At the time of the switch, a desktop site will cause an adverse impact as Google will lean more towards mobile experience for indexing and ranking purposes.

The solution to this is to adopt a two-way strategy that is either have responsive design or a mobile compatible site, which means ensuring that when the switch at Google occurs, both the version of the site serves same experience.

Getting business ready for Google mobile first index

Getting business ready for Google mobile first index

These are a few tips for webmasters working to prepare for Google taking a mobile first approach to indexing.
In the future, Google Search will be using mobile-friendliness when ranking your website. This will apply to searches in any language across the globe and, if your site isn’t fully responsive, it will see your page dropping down in the mobile search results. The impact of this change hasn’t been felt yet, but sites which don’t start preparing for it now will be left behind by the competition.
You have probably already created a mobile website for your business, but it’s vital that you ensure it features the high quality, useful content to be found on the desktop version. This is the content which Google will be using to evaluate your site, whether that means text, videos or images. It’s therefore vital to ensure that all formats used are crawlable and can be indexed.
Google will be using page speed as a factor when ranking pages found through mobile searches. If your site delivers a slower user experience, its position will suffer as a result.
If you have a separate mobile site, then pay it just as much attention as your desktop site. This means verifying structured mark-up and parameters such as Metadata, Hreflang, Social metadata, XML and media sitemaps, Search Console verification, App indexation and Server capacity, and subjecting both versions to equally rigorous testing.

Common Questions

Google will be evaluating sites along the lines set out above and deciding when they are ready to transition to a mobile friendly approach. For some sites this has already started, and the results are being very closely monitored.

The full roll-out of the mobile first approach will be done on a gradual basis, allowing webmasters to ensure that their sites are optimised for mobile users.

In this case, Google will continue indexing your Desktop site. If you do have a mobile version, however (and every business really needs to have a mobile friendly site given the way in which people now search online) you should ensure that the content and links are aligned with the desktop version, allowing Google to rank the site correctly.

Google is changing from crawling the web based on the desktop experience, to crawling with the emphasis on how mobile users will experience a website.

When Google has rolled out its mobile first approach, the mobile version of your site will need to be treated as its primary version and should be considered as an important medium through which you can drive your rankings.

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