After months of rumour and speculation, Google has officially confirmed that it is starting to roll-out mobile-first indexing. This means that it will be analysing the mobile version of a website rather than the desktop version to populate its index.
The announcement was made on the 26th March 2018 on the Webmasters Central Blog:
To recap, our crawling, indexing, and ranking systems have typically used the desktop version of a page’s content, which may cause issues for mobile searchers when that version is vastly different from the mobile version. Mobile-first indexing means that we’ll use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help our – primarily mobile – users find what they’re looking for.
See this link for the statement in full: Rolling out mobile-first indexing
What will change for website owners?
As long as you have a mobile friendly version of your website then you can rest relatively easy for now.
Many websites use a responsive web design which means that the same content adjusts automatically for display on Desktops, Mobiles and Tablets.
This usually involves your website detecting the device used by your users and delivering the most suitable screen layout and features, e.g.:
- Multilevel menu will need to be user activated to save space.
- Multiple columns will need to be merged to one column.
- Buttons suitable for desktop will need to be substituted for larger, mobile-friendly (touch screen) versions
- Graphics and code should be optimised for speed on mobiles.
If you have a special mobile version of your website then you need to take action and migrate to a responsive design or confirm that the mobile content is properly mirroring the desktop version.
There are some additional features of this change that are important to note.
Rankings will not be affected
Google assures site owners that mobile-first indexing will not have an impact on rankings. This is simply a change to how content is gathered for Google’s index.
Being indexed this way has no ranking advantage and operates independently from our mobile-friendly assessment.
There are many ranking factors which we have covered in an earlier blog post: Google ranking factors.
You will be notified through Search Console
Google are notifying sites that are migrating to mobile-first indexing via Search Console. Site owners will see significantly increased crawl rate from the Smartphone Googlebot. Additionally, Google will show the mobile version of pages in Search results and Google cached pages.
Test your website here: https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly
Please get in touch if you need any help making your website mobile friendly: Contact us