Google rolling out mobile-first search indexing

Google announced that after a year and a half of experimentation and testing, they have started migrating sites that follow the best practices for mobile-first indexing.

To recap, Google crawling, indexing, and ranking systems has typically used the desktop version of a page’s content, which may cause issues for mobile searchers when that version is vastly different from the mobile version. Mobile-first indexing means that Google will use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help its – primarily mobile – users find what they’re looking for.

Google continues to have one single index that they use for serving search results. They do not have a “mobile-first index” that’s separate from their main index. Historically, the desktop version was indexed, but increasingly, Google will be using the mobile versions of content.

Google is notifying sites that are migrating to mobile-first indexing via Search Console. Site owners will see significantly increased crawl rate from the Smartphone Googlebot. Additionally, Google will show the mobile version of pages in Search results and Google cached pages.

To understand more about how they determine the mobile content from a site, see the developer documentation. It covers how sites using responsive web design or dynamic serving are generally set for mobile-first indexing. For sites that have AMP and non-AMP pages, Google will prefer to index the mobile version of the non-AMP page.

Sites that are not in this initial wave don’t need to panic. Mobile-first indexing is about how Google gathers content, not about how content is ranked. Content gathered by mobile-first indexing has no ranking advantage over mobile content that’s not yet gathered this way or desktop content. Moreover, if you only have desktop content, you will continue to be represented in our index.

Having said that, Google continues to encourage webmasters to make their content mobile-friendly. They do evaluate all content in their index — whether it is desktop or mobile — to determine how mobile-friendly it is. Since 2015, this measure can help mobile-friendly content perform better for those who are searching on mobile. Related, Google recently announced that beginning in July 2018, content that is slow-loading may perform less well for both desktop and mobile searchers.

To recap:

  • Mobile-indexing is rolling out more broadly. Being indexed this way has no ranking advantage and operates independently from our mobile-friendly assessment.
  • Having mobile-friendly content is still helpful for those looking at ways to perform better in mobile search results.
  • Having fast-loading content is still helpful for those looking at ways to perform better for mobile and desktop users.
  • As always, ranking uses many factors. We may show content to users that’s not mobile-friendly or that is slow loading if our many other signals determine it is the most relevant content to show.
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About Konstantinos Zournas

Konstantinos studied Computer Engineering and Computer Science in London and lives in Athens, Greece. He works on domain names, websites and software development. Has been online since 1995 & domaining since 2002.

One comment

  1. Hello Konstantinos,
    Have you noticed, any back stage control issues, because its been our experience, that google Never makes changes unless they can control Web sites traffic to their advantage, anyone else have comments ?
    JAS

    Gratefully, Jeff Schneider (Contact Group) (Metal Tiger) Former (Rockefeller IBEC Marketing Intelligence Analyst/Strategist) (Licensed CBOE Commodity Hedge Strategist)
    (Domain Master )http://www.UseBiz.com

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