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Is Google Moving to “Mobile-First Indexing”?


Yes. It is. If you have separate sites for mobiles and desktop, you need to pay attention. If the content you have for your smartphone users is different from the one you have for your desktop users, you should rethink your web strategy. Google is moving towards integration. Paul Haar, @haahr on twitter is a software engineer at Google. He is pretty clear about the upcoming change in this tweet which is posted below.


It means there won’t be separate search index of mobile pages for mobile users and desktop search index for desktop users. So if your site is not optimized for smartphones and tablets you need to spend some time working on it as Google has emphasized that mobile search is more important for it than desktop search.


What is the Current Status?

Currently the algorithms at Google assess the desktop version of your website on the basis of usability and then list it and rank it accordingly on the result’s page. So when a user searches for your website on his mobile, your website with a good rank on Google on the basis of its desktop content is seen on mobile with same rank, even if its content has not been optimized for mobile. Herein lies the problem. The search engine listings mobile users currently see on their phones are not particularly useful. Mobile users want search engine results which are useful. They want to click on links which are optimized for smartphones. The world has shifted towards smartphone usage and left desktop behind in its wake. “Mobile-First Indexing” fits in perfectly with the new preferred way of search which is through smartphones.


What Will Be The Status Going Forward?

The idea is to provide great search experience to all users whether they come from desktops or smartphones. As per Google’s official blog, Google has begun its Mobile – First indexing experiments. It says, “We’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first. Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results.”

Google’s algorithms will focus first on mobile version of your site. Will there be a change in ranking due to this? Probably yes-if there is a big difference between the content on your mobile version and desktop version of your site.


What Are Google’s Expectations From Webmasters?

The shift in indexing process will take several months as Google will slowly move towards it. Meanwhile, Google wants webmasters to prepare for Google’s move towards mobile focused index. As mentioned earlier. It wants the webmasters to ensure that their primary content and mark-up is same across desktop and mobile. Both desktop and mobile version should be served structured mark-ups. Webmasters can use Structured Data Testing Tool to test URLs and mark ups. They can use robots.txt testing tool to ensure that the mobile version of the site is accessible to Googlebot. The mobile version of the site needs to be verified in Search Console too.

What If You Don’t Have A Mobile Version Of Your Site?

If you don’t have a mobile version of your site yet, take a deep breath and start working towards it. If you only have a desktop site at the moment, don’t fret. Google will continue to index your site. No need to rush. It is important that you have a good, well built mobile version or a good responsive site.  A desktop site is any day better than a broken or incomplete responsive or mobile version of your site. Take your time, make the changes and launch your mobile or responsive site when you are ready with it.


Isn’t Building A Responsive Site The Best Bet?

It is. A responsive website enables the users to see the web pages of a content optimized for different devices that have different screen sizes. The content shrinks, hides, enlarges, resizes to fit the screen of the device in your hands with the help of CSS and HTML. The biggest benefit of a responsive site is that the links that point to your site wouldn’t get lost in transition if viewed in mobile version of the site. Google is still not clear about how it will factor in the links that will get lost in transition when you make a separate mobile site for your desktop website. It should have a plan. Meanwhile, at our end building a responsive site therefore seems to be the best way forward for now.


The Wrap

Google plans to have a global roll out of Mobile-First Indexing. It is not going to be specific to chosen regions. Google still considers this to be an experiment. It says it will go ahead with Mobile-First Indexing only if it proves useful to its users during the experimental stage. Over a period of time Google will be testing the new way and it will be interesting to see the results. And that’s all from my end for now. Until next time, Adios.

Priyanka Garg

A writer, a wordsmith. Curious about the internet of everything. Interested in the cutting edge landscape of mobile apps and SAAS products. Blogs for OpenXcell - A Mobile App Development Company. Loves Jazz and Blues.