Recently, Google implemented mobile-first indexing, changing the way the search engine indexes and ranks sites. In this post, we’ll give a quick overview on what mobile-first indexing entails and what it could mean for your website.
Before the Change
In the past, Google’s crawling, indexing and ranking systems have tended to utilize the desktop version of a site when obtaining information about it. This was fine in the early days of the internet era, but as mobile search has expanded in popularity, and with many sites now having a mobile version of their site, this created some problems for mobile users.
For some sites, the content available on the desktop version vs. the mobile version is drastically different, with written content, graphics, videos, and site layouts all potentially being less user-friendly on the mobile version.
Google is very invested in providing positive user experiences, so mobile-first indexing is a way to encourage companies to make sure their mobile versions are worthwhile.
As its mobile-first indexing’s name indicates, Google will now index your site by way of your mobile version. If you do not have a mobile version, your desktop version will still be the indexed version. Thus, “mobile-first” denotes that the mobile version will be chosen as the default for any crawling, indexing, and ranking.
- The mobile-first index is not separate or an offshoot – there will be only one index, as there has always been, but mobile will just be prioritized.
- Desktop users and mobile users will still see the same respective versions of a site, that won’t change. The indexing only affects the “behind the scenes” aspects of your site.
- Google does not expect their total number of crawled URLs per day to change, but mobile crawling will become the norm over desktop crawling going forward.
- For sites that utilize separate URLs for their desktop and mobile versions, or engage in dynamic serving, Google has provided best practices to help make the transition.
Having a mobile-friendly or responsive site is not a requirement for Google’s change, and mobile-first indexing will not play a direct role in your site’s ranking.
However, the importance of having a mobile-friendly and responsive site is well known and is something we’ve reported on in the past.
Sites that are effectively designed for mobile users perform better, and with more and more users utilizing mobile for their everyday searches having a responsive site is incredibly important.
Some problems nonresponsive mobile sites often have include:
- Oversized or undersized graphics
- A confusing layout
- Difficult to read and access text
- A slow speed
If the mobile version of your site were to have these issues, then you could be doing yourself some real damage going forward. Mobile-first indexing will be choosing that (hypothetical) poor site to judge your content by, instead of a clean, functional one.
With this in mind, make sure your site is effectively structured for any mobile users.
Need Help with Your Mobile Site?
If you want to make sure you’re complying with Google’s recent changes, or if you just think your mobile site could use a tune-up, reach out to the team at Sixth City Marketing.