In March, Google announced that their first ever “mobile-first” indexing on the web would begin after roughly 18 months of testing. This plan, which was first unveiled back in 2016, is aimed at changing the way Google search index operates, with algorithms changing to the mobile version of a given site to index pages.
Parts of this transition may have begun back in December, but a larger rollout is now taking place. Here are all the basics you need to know as an internet marketing pro.
In simple terms, mobile-first indexing means that Google will utilize the mobile version of a given page for indexing and ranking. The primary goal here is to help many users, especially mobile ones, find what they need – Google now sees the majority of its search traffic from mobile devices, a reality that’s been the case for a few years.
As part of this update, Google has been quick to clarify that there will only be one single index for all pages – not a separate mobile-first index in addition to the main index. So effectively, mobile web pages will be used to index web pages instead of their desktop version. Again, this is clearly a move to prioritize larger and larger chunks of demographics moving to mobile search.
Mobile friendliness is not the only factor in where your site will rank, but it’s clearly growing in terms of how it’s prioritized. Google began boosting mobile-friendly pages in their rankings as early as 2015, and has also recently added a signal that will utilize page speed to help with rankings – slow-loading content will begin to see down rankings by July of this year.
Be aware that this switch is just a first wave, for now. Google chose the sites that were already following best practices for mobile-first indexing, and those are already being shifted over will be notified by Search Console. Afterward, switched pages will show the mobile version for Search results, and in cached pages. Don’t worry if you haven’t seen the switch yet – most companies that only have desktop content will be in this category for now, and it’s uncertain when everyone else will be switched.
For more on mobile-first indexing, or to learn about any of our other SEO services, speak to the pros at SEO Werkz today.