Has Your Website Switched to Google’s Mobile-First Indexing?

By Chris Wadsworth

Published in The Source - issue 38

Some of you may have received an email from Google stating that your website now has mobile-first indexing enabled. As Google rolls out mobile-first indexing other websites will be enabled over time.

What is mobile-first indexing?

When mobile-first indexing is enabled the mobile version of your website will be included in Google’s index, and will determine its ranking.

Mobile-first indexing means that everything is going to switch around. Google’s index will be built using the web pages from mobile devices, instead of desktop computers.

Why the change?

The majority of Google’s users are now on mobile devices and they want to ensure these users get the best possible experience.

In Googles own words:

“Mobile-first indexing means that Googlebot will now use the mobile version of your site for indexing and ranking, to better help our (primarily mobile) users find what they're looking for.”

How do I know if Google has enabled mobile-first indexing on my website?

Google decides when your website gets mobile-first indexing enabled. Initially they are switching websites that they determine are generally the same on desktop and mobile devices.

If you have a Google account (for analytics, webmaster tools, etc) the email address associated with that account will receive an email notification when mobile-first indexing is enabled.

You will also get an alert in the Google Search Console: https://www.google.com/webmasters

Will people still see the desktop version of my website?

Mobile-first indexing doesn’t mean your desktop website won’t get found. If someone searches Google on a desktop computer, they will still find the desktop version of your site.

How will this affect ranking on Google?

Because the websites that are being initially switched are the same on desktop and mobile devices the impact should be minimal and being included in Google’s mobile-first index won’t give your website a ranking boost.

As mobile-first indexing is introduced further problems will occur for websites that have different content on the mobile version than on the desktop version and rankings could change. If the mobile version is missing content that is important for ranking, then it could rank lower.

We recommend responsive website design because it uses the same content for all devices. For many websites that use responsive web design there will be no issues because the content on mobile and desktop versions are likely the same. Google will index information from these websites just as it always has.

Google knows that mobile users want just as much information as desktop users. They’re interested in text, images, videos, and other media, so don’t strip them from your mobile website.

Mobile-first doesn’t mean mobile only, so even if you don’t have a mobile-friendly version of your website, you can still rank. However, Google has made it clear that they are prioritising mobile websites over desktop versions. If your website doesn’t have a mobile version it would be wise to rectify this soon.

You can check whether your website is mobile friendly here: https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly

 

Posted 24 October 2018

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