Google’s Mobile-First Indexing
Google has officially started testing its mobile-first indexing. This will primarily view the mobile version of your site for its ranking signals and redirect to the desktop version when there isn’t a mobile version available.
We all saw this was coming and even started hearing about it a little over a year ago, however this is the first time that Google has posted details regarding the mobile-first indexing on their own blog.
The majority of Google searches are mobile, even though Google’s index is desktop
Google explained that on a daily basis they see more mobile searches than desktop searches. However, when Google looks to evaluate the ranking of a page on Google, it views the desktop version of the website. In order to fix this, Google will now view the content, links and structured data that is found on the mobile version of your website – if one is available.
With this new method, Google will primarily index mobile content and then use that to decide how they want to rank SERPs, regardless of whether you are on desktop or on your mobile. There will no longer be any kind of “mobile-friendly” adjustments made for mobile users. As a result, if your site is not mobile-friendly, it will even have an impact on how you appear for desktop users.
Google is testing this but hopes to roll it out to all
Google announced that they have started this experiment and will proceed with carefully experimenting on a small scale over the next few months. They stated that they will ramp up the change when they are confident that they have a great user experience.
No mobile site? Do not fret
Those who do not have a functioning mobile version of their site, do not need to worry too much. Google will simply use the desktop version in order to rank the website. This also means that if your site is responsive and dynamically changes content depending on mobile or desktop browsers, there is nothing special you need to do.
However, if you do not have a mobile website, you will not be able to benefit from the mobile-friendly ranking boost
How can you prepare?
Google has provided some recommendations to help people prepare for the change:
- If you have a mobile responsive website or a dynamic serving website where the main content and markup is equivalent over mobile and desktop, you don’t need to change anything at all.
- If you have a site configuration where the main content and markup is different over mobile and desktop, you should probably consider making some changes to your website.
- When adding structured data to a mobile website, avoid adding huge amounts of markup that irrelevant to the specific information content pertaining to each document.
- Use the robots.txt testing tool in order to verify that your mobile version is indeed accessible by Googlebot.
- Websites do not need to make changes to their canonical links; Google will proceed with using these links as guides in order to serve the appropriate results users who are searching on their desktop or mobile.
- If you are a website owner who has only verified your desktop site with Search Console, also add and verify your site’s mobile version.