On 26th March 2018, Google announced their latest algorithm update. Having spent 18 months testing and experimenting, they will be rolling out mobile-first indexing to more sites in the next few weeks.
This latest change to Google’s all-important algorithm will mean that Google will crawl, index, and rank a page based on the mobile version of the page rather than the desktop version.
There is no fixed timeline for swapping all sites over onto mobile-first indexing and it is unclear how many sites have already been switched over to the new process, however all websites will eventually be swapped over, including those that are desktop only. Google will start by switching over sites that are currently following mobile-first best practices.
What is mobile-first indexing?
Mobile-first indexing simply means that the mobile version of your website will be the starting point for how Google determines their rankings (indexing).
This doesn’t mean that there will be a desktop index and a mobile-first index. They are the same index, but some sites will have their desktop version indexed whilst others have the mobile version indexed.
It’s also worth noting that it is called mobile-first indexing, rather than mobile-only indexing. This means that, if a site doesn’t have a mobile-friendly version, it can still be included in the Google index. However, a lack of a mobile-friendly experience could well impact negatively on the site’s rankings. And sites offering a better mobile experience could potentially receive a boost in their rankings, even for searchers using a desktop.
Why is Google making this change?
In today’s increasingly digital world, more and more of us are accessing the internet via our mobile devices.
When over 50% of searches were done through mobile devices, Google began making the change to mobile-first indexing. This is because, with an increasing number of sites offering truncated content to mobile users, searchers were starting to find themselves clicking on pages that didn’t actually contain the content they expected.
Switching to mobile-first indexing should help Google to improve the customer experience and make search results more useful.
How will this affect my site?
If your site is mobile responsive, you probably don’t need to worry about the change, assuming you’re happy with your current rankings of course. You should, however, ensure that you use identical content, as well as relevant markup, on both the desktop and mobile versions of each page. You’ll also need to ensure that you site’s load speed is optimised, as speed will be crucial for indexing. After all, a fast website encourages more sessions online, more customer conversions, lower bounce rates, and higher engagement.
If, however, you have sites such as m.sites with different URLs, or you provide different content for mobile users and desktop users, you might run into issues once mobile first indexing roles out across all sites.
Essentially, if your site is optimised for mobile, you will rank well on both mobile and desktop.
What if my site isn’t mobile friendly?
Google has stated that websites that are not mobile friendly will still continue to rank under mobile-first indexing, the search engine will still show the most relevant content for each search.
However, it’s important to note that sites that are not mobile friendly will likely see a negative impact on their search rankings, on both mobile and desktop.
Want to ensure that your site is fully optimised for mobile-first indexing? Get in touch – our skilled and experienced team will ensure that you are fully equipped for the latest changes to Google’s algortihms.