Google’s Mobile First Indexing: 5 Things You Should Be Aware Of

Simon JonesGoogle, Stuff

Every so often Google makes a change that sends the industry into a frenzy of excitement and fear. As we covered back in October, Google’s gradual implementation of mobile-first indexing is the most recent stimulant of digital marketing types everywhere.

But what does it actually mean for you and your business?

We hope these 5 key points give you a better understanding of the most recent update, and what you can do to prepare.

1. Mobile First Indexing – What Does That Even Mean?

Traditionally, Google makes ranking decisions for websites based on the version of the site that you see when you’re on a computer or laptop; the ‘desktop’ version.

However, the advent of mobile technology means that an estimated 58% of all Google searches were performed on a mobile device last year. Google, in all their wisdom, have decided that page ranking should, therefore, be decided by how mobile-friendly a website is. Basically, how user-friendly would your website be if someone was to look at it on their phone or tablet?

2. So, Because I Don’t Have A Mobile Site I’m Going To Disappear Off The Face Of Google?

Not necessarily. First of all, this is only a gradual process at the moment so you have time to adjust. Second, even if you don’t have a mobile site, Google will continue to log your desktop webpage. You should still appear on the Google results pages, but you may or may not rank as highly as before if your site isn’t responsive.

3. Responsive?

A responsive site is one which adapts to the device it’s being viewed on. Basically, it retains the look and feel whether viewed on mobile or desktop. If you have a responsive site, Google has said you shouldn’t need to change anything. Content stays the same across the devices on responsive sites. If you’re using a different type of mobile site you could be losing content that you want Google to see.

There’s still a lot of time to adjust, and as Google have pointed out, you would rather have a decent, functional desktop website, than a rushed mobile version. Don’t panic Mr Mainwaring.

4. What Exactly Is Google Looking For When Ranking My Page?

Short answer – the exact same stuff as before, only applied to your mobile site. Both mobile and desktop site will be ranked based on signals from the mobile site. This means that the speed your page loads on mobile, content on mobile, tags on mobile, and so on, determine your ranking on desktop as well as mobile. It’s all about mobility, apparently.

5. How Long Have We Got?

Tricky to say. The mobile-first index is still in a beta phase. It’s being referred to as an ‘experiment’ by Google. If all goes to according to plan for those upstairs then we could see mobile-indexing rolled out in a month. If not, then it might not be until the middle of next year. Google are keeping their cards close to their chest unsurprisingly, and won’t want to disseminate anything that isn’t working as it should.

If you’re worried about your mobile friendliness you should take a look at your mobile site configuration, conduct structured data testing, make sure Googlebots can access the site, check canonical links, and verify your mobile site in search console.

Alternatively, you can get in touch with us and we’ll happily help.