“Mobile-first indexing enabled for https://www.___”, is a trending subject line in most business inboxes lately. As predicted, 2018 is the year that Google is rolling out mobile-first indexing. Contrary to what you may think, the goal of this email is not to confirm whether the website supplied is responsive or not. Instead, the purpose of this automated email alert is to notify website owners that mobile-first indexing is in effect, and that anyone looking in their Google Search Console or Google Analytics account may begin to see more traffic from “Googlebot Smartphone”. Let’s explore what you need to know about this important milestone.
Google announced on March 26, 2018 that “after a year and a half of careful experimentation and testing, we’ve started migrating sites that follow the best practices for mobile-first indexing”. This means that Google will continue to use only one search index but will predominantly use the mobile version of the content for indexing. Google makes note that “Mobile-first indexing is about how we gather content, not about how content is ranked”. This means that desktop only sites will continue to be represented in the Google index, although Google is encouraging webmasters to make their content mobile friendly for a variety of reasons, SEO and usability among them.
The impetus for Google’s mobile-first indexing is the upwards trend of search engine traffic coming from smartphones. The motive is to create a better user experience for those that are primarily searching on a mobile device, which for most websites, is generally more than half of your visitors. If a user is searching on a mobile device, its logical that sites using responsive design will show up higher on the rankings than those that are desktop only. Google is slowly but surely migrating mobile-first indexing across all eligible sites since its main vision is to provide highly relevant matches to a user’s search query.
Changes With Mobile-First
Mobile-first indexing is going to affect each site differently. If you have a desktop-only site, experts highly recommend making your site design responsive. With a responsive web design your site adjusts automatically for screen size. Although you won’t see direct changes in relation to mobile-first, this will make your site available to a user finding and using your site on a mobile device.
If you currently have separate URLs for the desktop and mobile versions of your site (e.g., www.domain.com and m.domain.com), then with mobile-first indexing, Google prefers the mobile URLs for indexing. It is important that the mobile pages follow Google’s best practices. And, it’s wise to ensure you have sufficient content on your mobile site to cater to high priority searches.
If your site content is dynamic serving, meaning it displays different content based on the user’s device type, then with mobile-first Google prefers mobile optimized content and will prioritize those pages when indexing.
If you still haven’t made your website responsive, this is yet another reason not to put off that redesign
. Or, if you have a mobile version of your site, it’s time to evaluate that site and content against this Google change. If you have questions about mobile-first Google indexing or a responsive website redesign, our SEO and redesign experts are happy to talk your ears off and help set you on the right path. Let's chat