Have you heard that Google is switching to a mobile-first index in the future? If in case you are not sure what this means or the way it would work on your site, don't panic or get worried, right here in this blog post, you will get a comprehensive explanation regarding the basics of the update and the possible steps to get ready.
In this particular post, I’ll discuss in details the basics of what “mobile-first indexing” means, how mobile first indexing SEO affect websites, and what you need to do so as to remain safe. In the comment section, I’ll also answer some frequently asked questions about mobile-first indexing and how it can influence SEO.
Mobile-first indexing means that Google will make use of the mobile version of your website for indexing and ranking. Historically, the index predominantly used is the desktop version of a website, a page's content, the relevance or worthiness of a webpage to a user's query. Considering the fact that a good number of people now access Google with the use of mobile device, the indexing will mainly make use of the mobile version of a page's content. Google is not creating a different mobile-first index. Google only make use of one index.
With mobile-first indexing, Googlebot predominantly crawls and then indexes web pages with the mobile phone agent. Google will continue to display the Web URL which is the most appropriate to users ( regardless of whether it's a desktop or mobile URL ) in search results.
Mobile-first indexing changes the top priority to the mobile version of web pages, which presents a better experiences for Google’s predominantly mobile users. This doesn’t signify that Google is going “mobile-only” or developing a different index directory for mobile and desktop results. It indicates that mobile web pages would be crawled first and then Google will fall back to the desktop if there is no mobile version.
Of course, this will increase several questions, and we’re sure to deal with as many of these as we can in the remainder of this post.
It is known as “mobile-first” due to the fact that it is not a mobile-only index.For example; if a website doesn’t have a mobile-friendly version, the desktop website can indeed still be incorporated in the index. However, the lack of a mobile-friendly website can negatively impact on the rankings of your site on Google search engine, but a website with a much better mobile experience would gain a rankings boost even for searchers on a desktop device.
To further illustrate how this functions, take a close look at the image below:
As the picture above demonstrates, mobile-first indexing alters the default behavior of the Google search engine for every search to ensure that it crawls the mobile version of a page whenever there’s one accessible. In a case where there is no mobile version, Google reverts to indexing your desktop page and then determines its ranking as usual.
This would entirely depend on how your site and its pages are optimized for mobile. To begin with, if your website is designed and created responsively you will stand at an advantage position.
In other words, your current mobile and desktop web pages are the same, then you shouldn’t panic about mobile-first indexing. In any of these cases, your current mobile and desktop web pages are the same and adjust to accommodate various display screen sizes, which is the style and design method Google recommends and endorses for mobile optimization.
The websites that’ll be most affected by mobile-first indexing are the ones that provide different mobile and desktop web pages for users. In such a case, the mobile version will undoubtedly be crawled first, and this will impact your search ranking for several reasons :
The majority of the possible difficulties here come down to poor and substandard mobile optimization so stick to the usual best practices and you will be on the safe side. However, several technological SEO difficulties could cause significant problems if you don’t know how to remain safe from mobile first index.
If your current desktop and mobile sites aren’t identical, making one or two adjustments will help you protect your rankings before Google executes the mobile-first index.
Here’s a quick checklist you can make use of to optimize your website for mobile-first:
I already made mention of this above so that I won’t waste your time again. But make sure that your site is responsive. The most critical element here is that the same content should be available on both mobile and desktop.
You can test the friendliness of mobile design here.
Your result will appear in the format below
Google do not emphasize much about its algorithms, but time without number, they keep saying “Make sure you serve the same content across your mobile and desktop sites. That means you should present the same articles, the same links, and the same features on both your site desktop and mobile version.
For a case study, let's take a look at this website rare.io. They present the same content both on their mobile and desktop sites.
Their Desktop site
And their mobile site
Did you notice that they include the same content as well as features like chat support in both the mobile and desktop? The only modification is that they’ve shaped the content material to match the device format, so on a mobile phone, they’ve stacked the content and also re-structured the chat support to a simple icon. They also include their sidebar info below the list of content articles; therefore, nothing is lost.
And the same rules apply, which you should follow. Great content, features that visitors want, high-quality images and video, and remarkable value.
In order to comply with mobile-first indexing, you necessarily have to ensure that your site loads very fast. Research shows that the pages in Google’s top ten search results are the ones that load in about 1.10 seconds.
If you’re making use of a responsive site, the load speeds should be similar to the image above.
You can test your page load speed here.
Ensure that the servers hosting your website are prompted to cope with the increased crawl rate.
A side effect of mobile-first indexing is that Google will start crawling your mobile website far more repeatedly. When you have a lot of web pages, this could put additional strain on your hosting which will undoubtedly slow the site down for your visitors.
This tip is fast and simple – however disregarding this, can cause your website to be inappropriately classified or even skipped by Google.
In case you haven’t verified your website before now, head over to Google Search Console and add a new website or verify your current site if it’s already been added.
You will discover more comprehensive guidelines on verification here.There are several possibilities, depending on your situation.
If you implement the above Checklist to remain safe from Mobile First Index and then start updating your mobile site now, you’ll not only have the capacity to withstand the coming changes, but you’ll have the edge over your competitors.