Mobile-first indexing explains itself by the name. It simply states that the first thing Google will look up to include a website in its index and to determine rankings will be the mobile version of the website.
If you track crawl bot visits to your site, you might notice a rise in visits from Smartphone Googlebot, and the cached copies of sites will often be the mobile version.
Also, it’s doesn’t mean a mobile-only index, it’s named “mobile-first”. For example, if a website hasn’t had a mobile-friendly version, the desktop website too can be listed in the index. However, a site’s failure of a mobile-friendly presence may have a bad influence on its results, and a website with a superior mobile presence may gain a ranking lift including for desktop searchers.
You can also suppose “mobile-first” as a relation to the idea that the mobile version of your site will be seen as the main version. Therefore, if your mobile and desktop versions are identical. For example, if you’ve optimised the website’s content for the mobile version and/or applied the interactive design on the same — this adjustment should (in principle) have really no effect on your website’s search results success.
Things To Know About Mobile-First Indexing
Yet, it represents a significant shift in how Google views your website’s content and how it prioritises crawling and indexation. Note that the desktop version was previously viewed as the main version (equal to a canonical URL) and the mobile version of the site was considered as an “alternative” form for a specific use situation.
That’s why Google recommended that webmasters having a distinct mobile website (m.domain.com) use switchboard tags (which confirmed the presence of a mobile URL version with a unique rel=alternate tag). Google may not even bother crawling and caching the mobile variants of each of these webpages, preferring instead to show mobile users the mobile URL.
The desktop version was almost always prioritised by SEOs and marketing departments as perhaps the most complete and accurate edition of a website, with complete content, structured data markup, hreflang (international tags), the bulk of backlinks, and so on; whereas the mobile site may have had slimmer content, and/or not involve the identical standard of markup and structure, and more or less surely will not obtain much amount of backlinks.
What do you need to do next?
Now that you know the meaning of mobile-first indexing and why it is so important. You must make sure that your website is entirely optimized for it so that the change works in your favour and not against you. So, the next thing you need to do is to know how you can optimize your website to fit in the guidelines of Google and thrive in the search results. What are the best ways to do that? To know more read this article: Best Practices For Mobile-First Indexing
The most frequently asked questions on mobile-first indexing
Is it true that mobile-first indexing creates a unique mobile index?
There is simply a single index with mobile-first indexing (the same one Google uses now). The switch to mobile-first indexing does not result in the creation of a fresh “mobile-first” index or a different “mobile index” while the “desktop index” remains alive. Rather, it modifies the way content is inserted into the preexisting index.
Is the mobile-first index online and having an impact on my site right now? If not, when will it be available?
Google has indeed been testing this indexing method on a limited amount of websites that were chosen primarily on apparent “readiness.” back from 2017. Most of the work is being done on this by the end of Google and after the major updates of last year, you can surely presume that the mobile-first index is online and impacting the search rankings of your website.
Will Google’s rankings be based solely on my mobile site?
When it concerns ranking, mobile-first indicates that the mobile site will be viewed as the main version. But, there might be some times when the desktop version is preferable (for example, if you never made the version of your website).
However, you may still observe differences in ranking among mobile and desktop search results, so you’ll need to keep check of both. (No matter which one Google uses predominantly to calculate ranks, you should still check both of them and keep optimizing them because rankings on them differ from each other depending on user behaviour and some other criteria.)
Read Content: How To Do Mobile SEO
When would Google consider the desktop site instead of the mobile version to decide rankings?
The most likely answer that can be given in this case would be if there is no mobile site google will utilise the desktop version to decide rankings.
It’s also likely that if you don’t even have a mobile version of the site the additional ranking information like backlinks would be taken into account of the site’s desktop version to rank on mobile searches too. But if you have a mobile version, the search engine will prefer that even if your site’s mobile version isn’t optimized.
As a result, one of the official suggestions is that if you’re constructing your mobile site or even have a “temporary measure” type mobile version online now, it’s preferable to have no mobile website than a damaged or unfinished one once mobile-first indexing is implemented. In this instance, you must wait till your mobile website is fully functional before launching it.
What if my website doesn’t have a mobile version?
The content could still be indexed if you don’t even have a mobile variant of the website and your desktop version isn’t mobile-friendly; yet, you might also not rank along with mobile-friendly websites. So because Google would prefer mobile sites and the crawler will be mobile too, it may have a severe effect on your entire rankings on desktop and mobile search results as it will be seen as providing a relatively poor user experience than that of other sites.
Is there a big difference in how interactive and dedicated mobile sites will be handled?
Both yes and no. The biggest difference will be in the amount of work required to prepare for this transformation.
If you possess a completely responsive site, you may generally have almost everything on your mobile site that is on your desktop version of the site and your main task will be to ensure that the mobile interaction is adequately optimised from a user standpoint (e.g. page speed, load time, navigation, etc).
With a standalone mobile site, you’ll have to ensure that your mobile site includes all that your desktop version does, which might be a great deal of work based on your current mobile approach.
Related Article: WHY ONLINE MARKETING IS KEY FOR CANADIAN BUSINESSES