We have talked about the mobile-first index briefly in other posts and our A Brighter Web podcast, but this post is dedicated to explaining its importance for your website. If this phrase is new to your ears, we highly encourage you to take the time to verse yourself in this significant Google change, as this is due out in early 2018.
We hope this post will give you a knowledgeable introduction on mobile-first indexing and what you can do to prepare yourself for this change.
What Exactly is the Mobile-First Index?
Currently, Google indexes websites based on its desktop version, meaning desktop versions are seen as the priority. The mobile-first index is where Google will build its search results and rankings based on a website’s mobile version of content. This change also includes results that are shown to desktop users, so even if they’re searching for you on a desktop, the results will be delivered based on the website’s mobile version.
How Will This Affect Your Website’s Current Rankings
Unless your website’s mobile and desktop versions are entirely different from each other, mobile-first indexing should have no instant effect on its ranking. In fact, Google webmasters Gary Illyes and Paul Haahr have both stated that they want this change to have minimal impact on rankings. Of course, it’s too early to tell if this is true, but you shouldn’t worry about your current standings right away.
What Can You Do If You Don’t Have a Mobile Version of Your Site
While this change in indexing is focused on mobile websites, Google has said you don’t have to worry if you don’t have a mobile version of your website (at least not right away). The truth is, Google wants you to have a mobile site, but they will still crawl and index your desktop version, meaning your site will still appear in search engine results pages (SERPs).
How to Prepare Your Mobile Site
To start, make sure your mobile site’s content and links are cohesive with your desktop’s version. By doing this, Google can adequately consume its content and rank your site exactly like it would for your desktop version.
If your content does not match, Google (and we) recommend your website is mobile responsive. That way the content and user experience are the same on both mobile and desktop versions. While you can utilize other mobile implementations such as 301 redirects, dynamic serving, and separate URLs, mobile responsive web design allows less room for error.
Yes, this is a lot of information to comprehend, but this is something your business cannot afford to put on the back burner. We are now in 2018, which means mobile-first indexing can happen anytime within the next couple of months. Start tailoring your website to meet Google’s major change and stay competitive on the web!
If you have any questions about mobile-first indexing, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.