Over the last year or so, there have been many talks regarding mobile-first indexing. In the past few weeks we have received 65 emails from Google Search Console letting us know that mobile-first indexing has been enabled for our websites. This article will explain what you will need to do and what this mainly means to SEO.
Before going any further, let’s talk about exactly what mobile-first indexing is. Typically, though most of the search made on Google happen through mobile devices, the system that formulates the results showed desktop pages first. Now, with mobile-first indexing, versions of web pages better suited for mobile devices would appear before the desktop sites. This creates a better user experience for mobile users, who make up a large portion of those searching on Google. While the mobile site will be indexed first, if there is no mobile version, Google will fall back to the desktop version.
Mobile-first indexing has minimal impact on website owners, but it is still prevalent for them to know what they need to do to, and whether they will be affected.
For each search, mobile-indexing changes Google’s behaviour from its default of showing desktop sites. Depending on how you have optimized your website, it may affect the ranking of your search ranking. Google recommends optimizing mobile and desktop pages in the same fashion, which would have no change in how your pages rank.
However, if the desktop pages differ from those that show on a mobile device, your search ranking will be impacted for several possible reasons. These include the mobile pages lacking structured data and/or metadata, different content being served from the desktop version of a web page, the verification of a page’s mobile version in the search is incorrect, and the optimization may have been performed poorly.
The methods of optimization that mobile-indexing will impact include those with separate URLs and sites that have different content on the site depending on what device they are searching on.
Be aware of the few SEO technical issues that can cause severe problems if the website owner doesn’t know what to look for. Make sure both the desktop and mobile versions are verified in Search Console. Note that, for better or worse, a mobile page’s link profile will differ from that of the desktop version. The current quality of link profiles your mobile page may cause a change in the ranking.
If optimized properly, there is nothing wrong having separate sites for desktop and mobile. It may seem as though have a responsive design for your mobile site may be the best route to take, but a user experience that is optimized to perform well on both mobile and desktop will always be the better option. It won’t impact the ranking or click-through rates.
Once the webpage has migrated to mobile-indexing, Google will send a notification in the Search Console. Nothing will change or cause the need to panic unless an update to the website owner’s strategy for mobile optimization is necessary. Even if nothing is expected to change once the switch happens, it is always a good idea to check to make sure that nothing unordinary occurs. Running an audit would be a wise choice after the notification is received that mobile-first indexing is enabled.