It is has been a year since Google has officially announced that they will soon be testing their mobile-first index. What does the mobile-first index mean and how this affects the digital marketing world. Since November 2016, Google has been experimenting with their mobile first index. In their blog they mentioned, “to make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first” (Phan, 2016).
What is Mobile-first Index and how can this affect SERP’s?
Since the popularity of smartphones, more and more people are doing searches online using their mobile devices. Google has understood this important shift. Google will use the mobile version of your site to see if their primary search engine ranking algorithms were met. What this means is that instead of Google crawling a site from a desktop browser perspective, they will now crawl the site from a mobile browser perspective. Google is now giving mobile searches more power which means that digital marketing should also consider mobile search ranking signals on top of the organic ranking signals.
Google expected you that your website should be viewable and user-friendly for both desktop and mobile browsers. With that being said, websites that are built for both desktop and mobile browsers have a better chance to rank better than those that are not.
What if your site is not mobile-friendly?
Although this shift is still in the experimental stage, Google has taken this shift quite seriously and is committed to boosting the change once they are satisfied that the mobile-first search index can create a great user experience. For existing websites before this drastic shift, there is no need to cause panic. Google will continue to crawl the site using the mobile user agent and rank the site. Of course, having a mobile site would give a strong ranking signal than those sites that do not have a mobile version.
Google has recommended these steps to all webmasters to help them prepare for the official roll out:
- Responsive or a dynamic service site. If your site is responsive where the primary content is viewable on both desktop and mobile, then there is no need to make any drastic changes.
- If the site has different configuration and markup for both the desktop and mobile, it is suggested that you should consider configuring your site the same for both the desktop and mobile.
- Make sure that your robots.txt tool is not blocking your mobile version.
- Verify both the desktop and mobile version of your site in the Search Console.
Changes and Impact on SERP’s
Google has no definitive time frame on when the mobile-index will roll out. It is expected that the roll out is global rather than hitting specific regions only. Google hoped that there would be no to little impact on search results when the mobile-first indexing will roll out. So there is still time to optimise your website for mobiles. Better ramp up your game in building your online presence and be prepared for the future algorithm updates.