Mobile First Indexing – Google to Rank Websites Based on The Mobile Version

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Google is testing a mobile first index that will rank website based on their mobile website content.

As the use of mobile searches continues to rise, Google is beginning to test mobile first indexing.

What Does Mobile First Indexing Mean?

Until now, Google has generally ranked websites based on the desktop version of your website content, including links and structured data. Now, due to the rise in mobile searches, Google is moving towards ranking websites based solely on the content of the mobile version of your website.

What if I don’t have a Mobile Friendly Website?

In the event, that you do not have a mobile friendly website, Google will use the content on your desktop website to rank you.

However, due to mobile friendliness being a major ranking signal, there’s a good chance that your rankings and SEO efforts can suffer if you do not have a mobile friendly website.

What Type of Websites are Considered Mobile First?

There are several ways to make your website mobile friendly, such as:

Responsive Design – responsive design allows your website to automatically adapt to fit whatever screen size its being viewed on. Responsive web design is what’s recommended by Google. It’s also the most cost effective solution and it requires less maintenance because you only have one website to manage.

Dynamic Serving – Dynamic serving utilizes one website address but delivers different website code based on the device type (e.g. desktop, smartphone) that requested the website. This creates a highly customizable experience for the user, unlike a responsive design.

Separate Mobile Website – Some business owners prefer using a separate mobile sub-domain that can have its own unique content for mobile users and separate URLs for example: They see desktop and smartphone users as having different needs, and want to optimize the experience such as making key information more easily accessible. Separate mobile websites, however, can be costlier because you need to create, manage and maintain a second website. There are also risks that can affect your SEO if it’s not setup properly.

What Steps Should I Take to Get Ready for Google’s Mobile First Indexing?

  • Run your website through Google’s mobile friendly test to determine if it’s mobile friendly.
  • If you have a separate mobile website, ensure that it is added to Google Search Console to verify your mobile website.
  • If you have a responsive site or a dynamic serving site where the primary content and markup is equivalent across mobile and desktop, you shouldn’t have to change anything.
  • Make sure you serve structured markup for both the desktop and mobile version. Sites can verify the equivalence of their structured markup across desktop and mobile by typing the URLs of both versions into the Structured Data Testing Tool and comparing the output. When adding structured data to a mobile site, avoid adding large amounts of markup that aren’t relevant to the specific information content of each document.
  • Use the robots.txt testing tool to verify that your mobile version is accessible to Googlebot.
  • Sites do not have to make changes to their canonical links; Google will continue to use these links as guides to serve the appropriate results to a user searching on desktop or mobile.
  • If you only have a desktop site, Google will continue to index your desktop site just fine, even if they’re using a mobile user agent to view your site.

You have time to make your website mobile friendly.

Google’s mobile friendly indexing is still in the testing phase and it may take months before this change affects all websites. You still have time to make your website mobile friendly. Though Google will index your desktop website if you don’t have a mobile website, Mobile friendliness is a ranking signal that can increase your rankings. So, take the steps now to get your website ready for Google’s final rollout.

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