Google made an official shift to Mobile-First Indexing as of September of 2020.
But what does this mean?
Mobile-first indexing simply means that Google will predominantly use the mobile version of the app or website for indexing and ranking.
If we look back, indexing used to be primarily on the desktop version of the content when evaluating the relevance of the particular page.
Since majority of users now access Google using their mobile device, Googlebot primarily crawls and indexes pages these first.
So are there two separate indexing?
No, Google has clearly stated that there is not a separate mobile-first index. Just that it uses the mobile version of the webpage for ranking and indexing purposes.
So what’s the problem here? And what is the shake up going to be?
Google decides the readiness of a website for mobile-first indexing based on parity of the following:
- Structured data and other metadata
While desktop versions are incredibly robust, their mobile versions are quite pared down.
There is also a difference in word count from hundreds to thousands. This might change the relevancy of the page in bot search.
If your website was published after July 1, 2019, by default mobile-first indexing is enabled. But if before, then you might have to force your website to be moved to mobile-first indexing.
Either way, you can’t opt out.
But why did Google do this?
The big emphasis here was to provide an identical experience on mobile and desktop.
What is the same experience they are talking about?
- Ensuring Googlebot can access and render mobile and desktop page content and resources.
- Making sure the mobile site contains the same content as the desktop site.
- Using the same meta robots tags on the mobile and desktop site.
- Using the same headings on the mobile site and desktop site.
- Making sure the mobile and desktop sites have the same structured data.
So what are some things to keep in mind when getting to practice this new flow?
- Make sure the error page status is the same on the mobile and desktop sites.
- Avoid any fragment URLs in the mobile site.
- Make sure the desktop pages have equivalent mobile pages.
- Verify that both the mobile and desktop sites are in Search Console.
- Make sure mobile site is equipped to handle an increased crawl rate.
What does this mean for SEO?
Crawling and rendering are two different processes. In terms of organic search; there are four distinct contexts that Google may currently consider for any given webpage:
- Desktop HTML – The raw HTML version of how a page is delivered from the server to a browser
- Mobile HTML – The raw HTML version of how page delivery from server to mobile device
Did we say too many technical terms. Don’t know what and how to work around this? Just ping us.