Mobile-first indexing, what is it?

Google has announced they are now beginning to roll out mobile-first indexing for websites, but what does that actually mean for you?

Before we get stuck in, let’s bring everyone up to speed so we can make sense of what we’re talking about here.

What even IS indexing?

Indexing is Google’s way of learning what your website is and what information it contains. It’s vital that Google knows this sort of thing because it’s basically the reason your site appears in the results when someone makes a search. Google looks at what someone is searching for, checks the index to see if your site has anything that might be useful, then delivers the search results.

Why mobile-first?

It’s really nothing to be alarmed about, mobile-first indexing is actually just a common sense move. Google have noticed that the majority of searches now come from mobiles and are adapting their results to work best for that majority. That’s right, everyone has gone mobile!

Up until now, Google had been indexing websites based on what was on their desktop site (i.e. the site you see when you visit from a laptop or similar device). While this was ok for some, often it was a problem. Maybe you’ve had it happen to you, you’ll make a search on your phone, tap a result but land on an unfamiliar page; whatever you were looking for isn’t actually there! This problem happens when a website’s mobile version is different to its desktop version. Google has delivered results based on what’s on the desktop site, but that’s not the site you’ll see when you tap the result on your mobile. Since most people are now searching from mobiles, it made sense to sort this out.

The good news

But don’t worry, the good news here is that mobile-first indexing will not affect the way responsive websites appear in search results. We’re happy to say that if you’ve had a website built by Alloy you’ll be absolutely fine. Our responsive designs mean visitors have access to all the information on a website on both mobile and desktop, the site will adapt to look best on both, but deliver the same content. The indexing of the site is, therefore, unchanged, so any SEO work will continue to benefit both your mobile site and your desktop site. Find out more about our SEO agency here.

How to prepare

If your mobile site is stripped down, based on a mobile compatibility script or different to your desktop site, now might be a good time to redirect some resources towards getting them in line with each other. Think of it as a bit of much needed website housekeeping! The change to the indexing will happen gradually so there’s no need to panic, but by getting prepared now you can be confident that your website will continue perform well in the coming months and years. Just like housework, a little tidy here and there means it doesn’t all pile up and become a nightmare later on!

If your website doesn’t have a mobile version or css at all, Google will continue to rank your page based on the desktop site. Unfortunately this doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do. Even though Google will still see and index the site, it’ll become less and less visible to people searching from mobiles, as the Google algorithm will certainly limit the ranking potential of your site on mobiles to limit traffic to you. Remember, with mobile users now exceeding desktop users, that’s now the majority of people!

If you need a bit of help adapting to this change then give us a call, we’d be delighted to have a chat and get to work preparing your website for the ever evolving internet of tomorrow!

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