Everything You Need To Know About Google’s Mobile Indexing First Changes
Google has released a load of changes, updates, and improvements to its ranking algorithm over the past decade. You may have noticed that many of these changes relate to mobile devices and mobile searches. That would make sense because more and more people are relying on their smartphones when it comes to using Google. It’s a lot easier to pull your phone out of your pocket and search a query than it is to go into the office, turn on the desktop, and search Google that way.
One of the more recent mobile-focused changes is known as “mobile-first indexing”. It’s essentially exactly what it sounds like. It places the focus on mobile versions of web pages and indexes those first within the search results, and with priority compared to standard desktop versions. This is in stark contrast to how the algorithm worked in the past, which typically made desktop pages a priority and then provided website owners a ranking boost for including mobile versions.
You can view evidence of mobile-first indexing by simply monitoring the Google bots that crawl through your pages via their Search Console app. You should notice a marked increase in traffic from a particular bot known as the Smartphone Googlebot. Likewise, you may notice that the Google cached versions of your web pages will be the mobile-friendly versions of those pages.
Is Mobile-First Indexing That Important?
In a sense, it’s extremely important. Yet, at the same time, it may not have any impact on your ranking at all. This is due to how the new practice works and whether or not your website is fully optimized for mobile. This new indexing practice focuses on mobile pages first and will consider those pages the main version of a particular page. If you do not have a mobile version of a particular page, then the bots will move on to the desktop version. The indexing process will continue as normal from this point, but it is believed that your index ranking will take a serious hit.
But what if the mobile version and the desktop version of your page are the same? What if your desktop version is fully optimized for mobile with responsive design and such? Experts believe that in this case, the new mobile-first indexing method should not have any sort of impact on your existing search ranking. Of course, Google likes to keep us in the dark on these matters and we are not yet fully aware of the extent of these changes or how they are graded.
This all boils down to the fact that mobile-first indexing has the potential to hurt your ranking a lot more than it could help it. This is often the case when Google releases updates that are intended to improve the overall user experience. As much as we would like it to be the case, these updates are meant to make our lives easier as website developers or marketing professionals. In fact, it’s often the exact opposite.
What Should You Do In Response?
It would be foolish to ignore these new changes. As mentioned, it could seriously hurt your ranking. Google has stated that all new and previously unknown websites will have mobile-first indexing enabled by default starting at the beginning of July in 2019. That means if you created your website last year or you’re planning on creating it in the near future, then mobile-first indexing is going to be enabled and unavoidable.
The best thing that you can do in response to these changes is to ensure that the content on your desktop pages and your mobile pages is the same. This will ensure that your ranking is roughly equivalent and that you don’t suffer a penalty because of mobile-first indexing. If your mobile page has less content than your desktop page, then the bots won’t be able to gather as much information and you will likely experience a loss of traffic.
Relax And Keep Mobile In Mind
The importance of mobile design has been in the Google spotlight for some years now. If you’re an experienced developer or marketing expert, then this is nothing new to you. The mobile-first indexing change is just one more change that highlights the importance of mobile design. So relax, make sure the desktop and mobile pages are equivalent, and always keep the importance of mobile design in mind. As part of our local seo service, we provide a fully mobile first indexing website for you, were appropriate, to enable fast and improved indexing, so if your site is not mobile friendly, speak to us today. Even if you don’t want monthly seo services, we may still be able to offer you a mobile site as a one off service.