What is Google’s Mobile-First Index?
Google has recently announced their decision to switch to a mobile first index because of continued growth and dominance of mobile search and internet usage. Currently, Google has just one index which is based on desktop sites, the Googlebot crawls the desktop site and gathers data and information about the desktop and mobile site, but does not create a new index based on mobile sites. With the new mobile-first index, rather than basing the index on desktop sites, Google will be basing the index on mobile sites. Google will begin using the mobile version of sites as the primary sources for the index.
This change drills home the point that having a mobile-friendly site is more important than ever (if you didn’t get that yet). However, if you don’t have a mobile site, your site will still be crawled. Just like if you were to pull up your non-mobile site on your phone and see the full site (however small, and difficult to use it may be), the Googlebot will also pull up this site, but it will see that the site is not optimized. If you currently don’t have a mobile site, this change will probably not make a significant impact on your ranking because Google has already prioritized mobile-friendly sites in search rankings and your site ranking has most likely already been affected by not being mobile-friendly.
How to ensure your site is ready for the Mobile-First Index
- The best way to ensure your site is mobile-optimized is to have a mobile responsive site. If your site is mobile responsive, you shouldn’t face any significant issues with the roll out of the mobile-first index.
- Checking your site with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test will also help you to ensure that your site is optimized for mobile users, especially if you don’t have a responsive site.
- Utilize Google Search Console to check that your mobile pages are able to be read by the Googlebot. You can fetch and render your site using the mobile user agent to see exactly how Google views your site and determine if there are any issues.
- Your important content needs to be accessible from mobile. If you strip out content from your mobile site to make it faster, you could potentially lose traction and reach on these pages. Basically, the way Google sees it is that if the content isn’t important enough for mobile, then it is irrelevant.
- Optimize your site for mobile! Besides making sure you have a site that can be viewed on mobile, you also need to make sure that your site is optimized for mobile. Some of the high value ways to do this would be to improve your mobile site speed (you can test your site with Google’s Page Speed Tool) and ensure that you are optimizing your content and your site for important keywords.
From all of the information available so far, the change to a mobile-first index should not affect significant changes in search rankings. Rather, Google is changing the way they look at the web to better match the way people are using it and that is mobile-first. However, businesses should recognize this change by Google as a sign of the importance of mobile optimization. For help and guidance with mobile optimization, contact Anvil today.