Google begins mobile-first indexing, using mobile content to rank all search results

Google announced that it has began experimenting with mobile-first indexing to make results more useful as most people are searching on Google using a mobile device.

If you have a responsive website or a dynamic serving website where the primary content and markup is equivalent across mobile and desktop, you shouldn’t have to worry about changing anything on your existing website.

Google takes this shift in search indexing very seriously. Google will run experiments over the coming months on a small scale and make the change when ready.

Google’s ranking systems still typically look at the desktop version of a page’s content to evaluate its relevance to the user. This can cause issues when the mobile page has less content than the desktop page because algorithms are not evaluating the actual page that is seen by a mobile searcher. That is when the website is serving different versions to desktop and mobile users.

Although Google’s search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, the algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in the search results. Of course, while the index will be built from mobile documents, Google is going to continue to deliver “a great search experience” whether they come from mobile or desktop devices.

Here are a few recommendations to help webmasters prepare as Google moves towards a mobile-focused index:

  • If you have a responsive site or a dynamic serving site where the primary content and markup is equivalent across mobile and desktop, you shouldn’t have to change anything.
  • If you have a site configuration where the primary content and markup is different across mobile and desktop, you should consider making some changes to your site.
    • Make sure to serve structured markup for both the desktop and mobile version. Sites can verify the equivalence of their structured markup across desktop and mobile by typing the URLs of both versions into the Structured Data Testing Tool and comparing the output. When adding structured data to a mobile site, avoid adding large amounts of markup that isn’t relevant to the specific information content of each document.
    • Use the robots.txt testing tool to verify that your mobile version is accessible to Googlebot.
    • Sites do not have to make changes to their canonical links; we’ll continue to use these links as guides to serve the appropriate results to a user searching on desktop or mobile.
  • If you are a site owner who has only verified their desktop site in Search Console, please add and verify your mobile version.
  • If you only have a desktop site, we’ll continue to index your desktop site just fine, even if we’re using a mobile user agent to view your site. If you are building a mobile version of your site, keep in mind that a functional desktop-oriented site can be better than a broken or incomplete mobile version of the site. It’s better for you to build up your mobile site and launch it when ready.

About Konstantinos Zournas

I studied Computer Engineering and Computer Science in London, UK and I am now living in Athens, Greece. I went online in 1995, started coding in 1996 and began buying domain names and creating websites in 2000. I started the blog in 2012.


  1. This is the ultimate outcome of the destruction of the URL bar and Google paying browser authors for delivery of users to their search engine. Google now decides what is “good content” and how it is to be presented. You must produce websites that look exactly as Google deems worthy, or you will be punished.

    New users with the attention span of a gnat now search on Google for websites they visit every day. Direct visits to websites have declined to nearly non-existent. Domains are now pretty much worthless as a way to attract visitors.

    I blame everyone that uses Google Analytics and does what Google demands via Google’s webmaster tools, without question.

    The Internet used to be a place where anyone could florish. Not anymore. You must have sliders, and video on the front page above the fold. You must keep the facebook-loving device-attached morons happy. You must do this. You must do that.

    I refuse to apply vaseline and bow backwards before the Google. I fucking give up. I’m off to live in a cave.


  2. This will be big. There are a tons of sites not mobile friendly, they going to really get dinged. That said, most sites are mobile friendly, but bit really seo optimized for mobile. Since people utilizing mobile pages differently, then desktop and just changing lay out and format is not going to cut it.

  3. And what does Google sell, desktop or mobile devices? I made my point.

    • @Michael- For us dumb ones can you pls elaborate your point?


      • With a company as big and powerful as Google, their decisions have major implications for many small online businesses. Every time they make an “improvement” it sends those small businesses and websites into a tizzy. It’s ultimately an abuse, in my opinion. Read the article and realize that Google makes mobile phones and not desktop computers.

      • Exactly. How much time and money is spent by small businesses ensuring their online presence meets Google’s decrees?

  4. The problem is: Google is so efficient at indexing sites, a separate mobile site might register as duplicate content of the desktop version, and deliver a lower ranking for both. Better use a responsive theme, and have everything on one site. I alerted the domain community 3 years ago with my article, Welcome Mobile Users to Your Site, advocating responsive themes, before they became common. Now, the default wordpress themes: 2016, 2015, 2014, etc., are responsive.

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