On Monday, March 26th Google uploaded an announcement to their Google Webmaster Central Blog which stated that they are now rolling out mobile-first indexing for “sites that follow the best practices for mobile-first indexing.” This distinction is important as it is not rolling out mobile-first indexing for ALL sites regardless, they are only rolling it out for sites that are ready for the switchover.
Why this is important is because up until now Google has always used the desktop version of your websites content to crawl and index and so this is what your ranking has been based on. However, they have increasingly noticed that this has caused some issues for people who are searching on their mobile, as desktop content can be vastly different from mobile content. This new focus on mobile-first indexing, therefore, is aimed at helping those who search for content on their mobile to be better able to find what they are looking for. As mobile is increasingly becoming the main tool we use for browsing the web, especially for Millenials, this, therefore, makes sense.
It is interesting to note as well, that Google is not naming it the mobile-first index but rather mobile-first indexing. This is because it is not a separate index to the desktop index, it is more about how they crawl and index the web. Google themselves have stated that they will “continue to have one single index that we use for serving search results” but this index will focus more on the results their bots find from crawling and indexing the web as a mobile browser would see the page, rather than as a desktop browser would see the page which has been the focus up until now.
Danny Sullivan, Google’s public liaison of search, explained it like this on Twitter:
“Think of mobile-first indexing like a library that can have one copy of every book. Initially, it was all print books. As ebook became popular, it starts to replace the print version with ebooks. Still one library, mix of both types but over time, it’ll be mostly ebooks…
With mobile-first indexing, Google is like a single library that is now beginning to replace print books (desktop pages) with ebooks (mobile pages). Over time, the library will be mostly ebooks (mobile). But print books (desktop) will always remain part of the mix in the library.”
Pretty easy to understand when you think of it like that hey?
Google has also published a lot of developer documentation which helps us understand more about how they determine the mobile content from a site, and what mobile-first indexing best practices are to make sure you don’t suffer in terms of crawling, indexing and ranking when the switchover to the new mobile-first indexing. What they have said is that they will “evaluate each site individually on its readiness for mobile-first indexing based on the best practices and transition the site when the site is ready.”
They have also stated that there is no need to panic if your site is not mobile-first indexed in this first wave of indexing. As you can see from the table above, the indexing seems to be focused on how they gather content rather than how the content is ranked. Therefore, any content that is gathered as part of mobile-first indexing will not have any ranking advantage over desktop content or mobile content that has not been gathered yet. Also, if your site only has desktop content then you will still continue to be indexed.
To round all of this up, these are the bullet points that Google themselves posted as a recap to this mobile-first indexing roll-out”
If you want any more information on mobile-first indexing or how we can help you to improve your site’s content then please get in touch with us today. You can call us on 01625 238770 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be in touch.