So are you too wondering what is mobile-first indexing and why would your website need it? Here is what the term means for an average business owner and a little more clarity on why you might need it for your website:
While there is a minimum impact of Mobile-First indexing currently, with it not playing a role on a larger scale, you are better forewarned and hence forearmed. Mobile-first index is among Google’s newest addition to the idea of the mobile friendly web.
Most search engines, including Google, indexed websites in a straightforward manner, based on the content it contained and the standard desktop version and its responsiveness before mobile web became a huge deal. However, ever since mobile only websites have entered the scene, the indexing process still remained the same and was hence outdated.
No matter the content add to your mobile site, if it is not on your desktop version, your overall rankings will not reflect positively of the content or experience.
Google however has decided to change that in the near future by changing how they will index new as well as existing sites. The starting point of your rankings will now be based on the mobile version of your website combined with the mobile experience you are offering.
However, what is essential to know is that mobile-first index does not imply a mobile- only index. You wouldn’t be excluded from the index if you do not have a mobile only or mobile friendly website, however you may face a drop in your ranking if your fail to provide a mobile-friendly experience to your visitors, giving your competitors an opportunity to move ahead.
It might be bothering for the desktop version to suddenly become a sidecar and the mobile version play the driving force of your rankings. However, with how the majority of web users have shifted to using internet on their phones, the mobile-first indexing may be fundamental switch which has much been delayed.
You may or may not need to make much changes to your website before Google’s mobile-first indexing goes into effect, depending on how the website is coded. If your websites are responsive in design or uses identical versions for both desktop and phone, Google’s blog on the topic says that you will not have to make any adjustments.
However you will still have to focus on ensuring that the website follows best practices for mobiles.
For example, since the indexing will be done based on how the website appears to the smartphone Googlebot, if you have a responsive website, your concern should be to prioritize both mobile page speed and load times. You must also ensure optimization of all elements. You need to understand that when views from the mobile responsive view, the collapsed and hidden content on your website may appear differently.
Business that have a separate mobile website may need to do additional work in ensuring that the best of your content is present on the mobile version and can be easily crawled and indexed. The structured data, sitemaps, and metadata must be reviewed to be accessible and equivalent on both desktop and mobile versions. Moreover, if you are using a separate host for the mobile website, verify whether they can handle the enhanced crawl rate as may exist.
Google has not rolled out a firm date as of now about when will it begin indexing in a truly mobile-first manner. However, they have used a number of websites as guinea pigs ever since they have been working on it since 2016.
In a webmaster blog?, Google notified that it may take another year or two before mobile first indexing comes into play since they are trying to be very cautious with the rollout. However, it is best that website owners be prepared late this year to be on the safer side.
However, some businesses do not offer a responsive website and do not have a mobile version of the website. Well, you need not panic as if you aren’t already onboard the mobile website rage, it is evident that website is not a focal point to the performance of your business and your customers are less likely to reach to your through their mobile devices. However, this may still impact your overall ranking negatively as your website will exhibit a bad user experience in contrast with those website who are mobile ready.
While there isn’t much to do about mobile-first indexing that must bother you, however to know that Google is working on it is essential for website owners. You must remain aware of how it will impact you and future plan of action must be decided keeping the mobile-first indexing in mind. Having both the desktop and mobile friendly versions is definitely going to help retain your rankings.