Google’s New Mobile-First Indexing

What has seemed like an inevitability for a while has now become a reality. The majority of users conducting a Google Search are now doing so on a mobile device. The rapid emergence and subsequent explosion of mobile has convinced Google that prioritizing the mobile elements of a site when conducting a Google search will provide users with a better and more up-to-date experience than sticking with the desktop-centric indexing. This is a change that will not go unnoticed and compliance with this change should be taken very seriously by anyone with a website that wants to appear in Google search results. The following will describe the change Google intends to implement in technical terms.

Google is Putting Mobile Websites First

One of the reasons Google is making this change to mobile-first indexing is because it is attempting to correct potential issues that are certain to arise using its old algorithm. The old algorithm currently places more emphasis on desktop pages, which could potentially lead to less robust results when searching on a mobile device if the mobile page in questions has less relevant content than the desktop version.

The change Google wants to implement that would prevent this issue from occurring would be to make its index mobile-first. This would mean that the new algorithm would place the primary emphasis on the mobile site’s content to rank pages, understand structured data, and display page snippets.

Google plans to roll out these changes on a limited basis in order to gauge how best to implement this sizable change across the board.

How to Adapt to Google’s New Algorithm

There are a few adjustments that can be made to better comply with the revamped algorithm in order to safeguard against a site tumbling in Google’s search results:

  1. Check if the content and markup is different between desktop and mobile versions of the sites.
    • If different, be sure to:
      • Serve a structured markup for both versions without adding large amounts that aren’t relevant to specific information content of each document for mobile.
      • Use robots.txt tool to make sure the mobile version is accessible to Googlebot.
      • There will not need to be any changes made to canonical links.
  2. Add and verify the mobile version in Search Console.
  3. The desktop version of sites should not be affected.
  4. Speed also matters. Using Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) technology is a way to publish content while keeping a mobile site optimized.
  5. Getting listed in Google News if the site publishes news about the industry will help your content appear higher in search results.
  6. When building a mobile version of a site, a desktop-centric version is better than an incomplete or broken site.

As can be seen, this is not a change that should be taken lightly, nor is it a fad or trend that is expected to taper off upon the passage of time. Mobile is here to stay and will only get more important as Smartphones become more powerful. If keeping a site relevant on Google search results is a desired outcome, then it would behoove anyone with a site to get serious about making the necessary tweaks ahead of this drastic change Google intends to undertake.