Mobile-First Indexing

If you don’t want to read this whole page here is a very quick synopsis. In November 2016 Google announced that their indexing algorithms will switch to ‘primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site’…hence the name Mobile-First Indexing.  If you weren’t convinced that Google are serious about mobile search when Mobilegeddon was occurring then this should be a pretty clear indication.

What does the Mobile-First index mean?

It’s a big change. Google’s index has always looked at how a website displays its content on desktops but this imminent change will give priority to content that is displayed on mobile devices. This is different from being ‘Mobile Friendly’ because we are talking about a single index here. It means that if you have different content on your mobile site (mdot) compared with your desktop site, the content that is perhaps missing on your mobile site compared with your desktop site may not get indexed.

The consensus is that far responsive websites this shouldn’t make much of a difference because the content is pretty much the same but it is very pertinent for those with separate mobile and desktop sites. Google advise that for these website they look at the differences in structured data and robots.txt, they also claim that canonical tags will not have to be changed which is at least a small bit of silver in the metaphorical thunder cloud.

What if I don't have a mobile friendly site?

It’s not actually as bad as you might think. Your site will still be visible to Google’s mobile specific robot, it just won’t be mobile friendly. Not bad considering that it was never mobile friendly. I mean, not bad in that your status quo may not change due to this update but fairly catastrophic if you have no intention of remedying the massive issue of missing out on a whole swathe of mobile traffic. Seriously, regardless of whether you are interested in gaining traffic through search, get a responsive website.

Why is Google doing this?

Pretty simple answer: mobile is more important to them than desktop. Google now receive a greater amount of searches via mobile than desktop so it is of paramount importance that they adjust their algorithms to support their userbase.

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