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.