Mobile-First indexing: The Time is Now

Back in April of 2015, Google drew a line in the sand. And that line was about mobile-friendliness. If your site didn’t cut it, then it got cut. We nicknamed this “mobilegeddon” and advised everyone that if your website wasn’t mobile-friendly or responsive, then it needed to get that way and fast.

Now, Google has rolled out mobile-first indexing. So what does that mean? Should we all panic? 

Mobile-First Indexing

In the past, Google indexed the content of the Desktop version of your site to learn what your site was about and sort it in their database. Now, Google is switching to indexing your site’s mobile-content first. So when the crawlers hit your site, they will index your mobile site first and then your desktop site second. What this means is that if you have content available on your desktop version that’s not on the mobile version, this may affect how your site gets indexed. But it’s not mobile-only indexing, so even if you don’t have a mobile-friendly site, your site can still get indexed.

The Good News

If your site is responsive and has the same content on both mobile and desktop, then yay you, nothing should change! This change is not going to affect how your site is ranked, rather it affects how Google is gathering your content. If your content is the same across the board, then your rank shouldn’t change.

If you don’t have a mobile-friendly website, then you should potentially be worried. Of course, you should have been worried back in 2015, so let’s just crank that up a bit. Google has been saying for years that content that’s not deemed mobile-friendly will not rank as well.

A few things to note:

  • Google is rolling this new indexing out slowly, and your site probably hasn’t been reindexed yet.
  • Mobile page speed is going to be important, so make sure your site loads pretty quickly for mobile.

What should you do?

First, go to the Google mobile-friendly tester and make sure your site is mobile friendly. That’s priority #1. If it already is, make sure you are showing the same content on both your mobile and desktop site.

I am a big advocate for cutting aspects of your desktop site to make the mobile version more user friendly, but that should mean cutting large graphic elements and other additional modules/sections that are there for visual appeal or additional navigation, NOT the content of the page. Be sure you are correctly using your H1, H2 etc tags as well.

Google says it will be notifying sites via Search Console as they are migrating them to mobile-first indexing, so you’ll see more notifications from the mobile Googlebot. Your snippets may also change as they will be generated from the mobile-content. Again, only a big deal if you have vastly different content between platforms.

Page Speed Matters

The mobilegeddon of 2018 is going to be page speed, with Google saying that sites that load slowly may see a loss of rank.

mobile first indexing

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Amy Masson

Amy is the co-owner, developer, and website strategist for Sumy Designs. She's been making websites with WordPress since 2006 and is passionate about making sure websites are as functional as they are beautiful.

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