Google’s Mobile-First Indexing Update: What You Need to Know

When Google first announced in 2016 that they’d be switching to mobile-first indexing for their search rankings, there were a lot more questions than answers available. So, we are here to answer some commonly asked questions about the changes that are coming to make sure you understand exactly what this change means for you and your business.

What is Google’s Mobile-First Indexing Update?

Essentially what this means is that Google will start indexing the mobile version of a website first rather than the desktop version of a website. Google wants to provide the best user experience for where a majority of users are searching: mobile devices, which means that websites that aren’t mobile-friendly are likely not delivering a positive experience. Websites that are mobile friendly will not be impacted negatively by this change, however, those who do not have a mobile-friendly website or provide different content based on the device might see their performance negatively impacted over time as Google slowly rolls out this change across different websites.

Earlier in the year, Google introduced their mobile-first search index to a number of sites, and they started rolling out this change more broadly as of this summer.

What are the Top Ranking Signals for Mobile Response?

Google will consider whether the site offers fast page loading, mobile browser sizing/resizing for every page, and if the page has an intrusive interstitial (pop-up). You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test for a preliminary evaluation of your site to learn beforehand if it needs a tune-up for mobile-first indexing.

How Can You Optimize for Mobile-First?

  • Replace pop-ups with more effective tools.
  • Ensure titles, meta descriptions, and content are consistent on both mobile and desktop versions of your site. Content and internal linking on mobile should match content and internal linking on desktop.
  • Verify structured markup of desktop and mobile by typing both URLs into the Structured Data Testing Tool and compare the output.
  • Make sure the mobile version of your website is accessible to Googlebot by using the robots.txt testing tool.
  • If you have a separate mobile site but you only verified your desktop site in Google Search Console, add and verify your mobile version.
  • To facilitate an easy transition, ensure you have a mobile-responsive website, meaning it fits to any screen whether on mobile or desktop devices.

Don’t let the change in Google’s algorithm stress you out! Learn more about how our SEO experts can help you prepare for this change and any future Google algorithm updates.

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Josh Wilbanks

Josh is continuing his junior year at the University of North Texas and is pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in journalism with a concentration in public relations. While at UNT, Josh works as a Social Media Strategist for the Housing department and is a student representative for the Mayborn School of Journalism. He started as a Marketing Communications Intern at ReachLocal this January and is very excited to learn and grow while meeting new people in the industry.

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