A 3 minute read by Jonathan Foulds, Search Strategist & Erin Hill, Search Marketing Specialist
Nearly a year ago, Google first announced their mobile-first indexing initiative, but in true Google fashion, they have been fairly non-specific as to when the mobile-first index will be officially rolled out. Even though Google hasn’t officially announced the transition, over the past couple of weeks, many tracking tools and webmasters have started taking notice of major mobile ranking shifts. So yes - winter (I mean, mobile-first indexing) is coming.
Historically, Google indexed sites based on their desktop experiences since desktop used to bring in the most traffic. But with more and more searches occurring on mobile, Google has shifted towards a mobile-first initiative, meaning that when spiders crawl your site they will primarily crawl the mobile version rather than the desktop browser view to develop the Google index and evaluate where the site should be ranked.
Wondering how all this will work and impact your website? Here’s what we know and what’s going to change with mobile-first indexing:
If you don’t have a mobile version of your site, don’t freak out (yet).
According to Google, it will still crawl your desktop version if you don’t have a mobile website. But with more and more searches occurring on smartphones and tablets, it’s definitely time to build a responsive mobile site! Keep in mind that in Google’s eyes, it is better to have a functional desktop site than an incomplete mobile site that is not user-friendly. So, make sure that when you do build a mobile site, it adheres to Google’s best practices and launches only when ready.
Make sure your content is the same on mobile and desktop.
Google recommends that content be the same on a page-by-page basis from your desktop to your mobile site. If there is less content on your mobile site, Google will probably only see the mobile version with less content. If you’d like your users to see and interact with important content, be sure to have this content on mobile!
Mobile-friendly content will continue to rank better and better.
It is already well understood that mobile site speed, user-friendly navigation, clickable elements, font size, and other areas of mobile UX factor into search rankings. But the mobile-first update means that these factors will only become more and more important.
Wondering if your site is mobile-friendly? Test your site with this cool tool.