Google Mobile First Indexing: What You Need to Do Now
June 6, 2018
Since its inception, Google has looked at the web through a desktop-first lens, but going forward, this won’t be the case. Google recently announced that after a year and a half of development, it’s beginning to transition websites to its mobile-first index. In its own words, “Google index is similar to an index in a library, which lists information about all the books the library has available. However, instead of books, the Google index lists all of the websites that Google knows about.” In simple terms, indexing is the process by which website content is added into Google search.
What does the mobile-first index mean?
Until this point, Google typically used the desktop version of a website to crawl and index for search results. With the growing popularity of search on mobile devices, this typically results in users being shown search results that don’t reflect the device they are using. Google has always strived to serve the most relevant and organic results for users, and the mobile-first index will accomplish just that. The search engine giant will now look at websites and index them from a mobile-first perspective. If you have a mobile-friendly version of your site, Google will index that version rather than the desktop version.
Google is currently using Search Console to notify sites of the mobile-first indexing migration. Site owners will see significantly increased crawl rate from the Smartphone Googlebot. Additionally, Google will show the mobile version of pages in search results and cached pages.
How to Prepare for the Change
This change means that mobile pages, and the experience they provide, are more important than ever before. If you don’t have a mobile version, don’t worry. Google said it will continue to crawl your desktop version if that’s the case.
With their stripped-down interface and speed optimizations, mobile sites can vary quite a bit from their desktop counterparts. If you have a mobile site, now is the time to make sure the content and links on the mobile site include as much as possible from the desktop version. If content is carried over, Google’s bots will crawl your site and interpret it just as it would with the desktop version. This ensures a more seamless transition as the move to mobile-first indexing progresses. Your organic rankings will thank you later.
Google has said this change shouldn’t affect overall rankings. It’s too early to tell, but it’s always best to prepare yourself for success. Inspect the mobile version of your site and address any areas where content is missing or incomplete when compared to your desktop site. Monitor your organic KPIs and pay particular attention to your mobile performance. Lastly, keep an eye out for a notification in Google Search Console, like the image below, that the mobile-first index has been enabled for your site.
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