Google Moves to Mobile-First Indexing


Google’s search algorithm is to crawl mobile website versions first in cases where a website is comprised of separately coded desktop and mobile versions. In an announcement posted on the Google Webmasters blog last week, Google revealed that its search engineers have started running small-scale mobile-first indexing experiments, with a view to primarily using mobile versions to rank pages, understand structured data and show snippets in the future.

The switch to mobile-first indexing will not affect the search performance of responsively coded or dynamic serving websites, which deliver optimised experiences for both mobile and desktop views using responsive techniques such as CSS media queries.

Whilst Google’s long-term mobile-first vision seems to be set in stone, digital marketers and website owners who have focused their SEO efforts on a desktop website version do have some time to adapt, as the following passage from Google’s blog post confirms:

“We understand this is an important shift in our indexing and it’s one we take seriously. We’ll continue to carefully experiment over the coming months on a small scale and we’ll ramp up this change when we’re confident that we have a great user experience.”

Action it!

The news that Google is moving to mobile-first indexing for websites with multiple variants is a clear signal to website owners that they need to focus on giving mobile users the same high quality experience they’re providing for desktop users (if not better). Mobile-friendliness is increasingly important from an SEO perspective, and with more browsing now taking place on mobiles rather than desktops, it’s clearly a vital user experience consideration too.

If your strategy has been desktop-first up until this point (and especially if you rely on a desktop website version for SEO and you also have a less optimised mobile version), now would be the perfect time to make some changes.

There are a few different ways to make a website compatible with mobiles, the best of which, in our opinion, being responsive design. For one thing it’s a fantastically efficient approach, using just one source code and a single domain to create great experiences for multiple device types. It also happens to be Google’s recommended approach for making your website mobile-friendy.
For more on this topic, check out our podcast episode dedicated to the subject of mobile-friendliness: “How Google Mobile Ready is Your Website?

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