Google has announced a major change in the way that it indexes websites, in a shift that mirrors consumer behaviour across the growing mobile landscape.
Mobile-first indexing is now Google’s Search Console’s number one priority or reference point when indexing webpages – in layman’s terms, this means that the Googlebot crawler will use the mobile version of your site when indexing and ranking it, rather than the desktop version.
It’s a major move forward from the traditional model of indexing desktop versions first – when these versions/pages appear in search results, these can cause issues for mobile users (who are now in the significant majority in the United Kingdom).
While Google says for now it will only implement the above change on sites that have identical content on both desktop and mobile versions, the move suggests that over the course of time it will apply the standard across the Search Results pages completely.
What does this mean for you?
Well, simply put it means that how responsive and mobile-friendly your website is, and how well your mobile version is set up can make or break your ranking – if not immediately, then imminently.
Mobile browsing makes up an average of over 60% of all online activity in the UK, with that number rising significantly over the last 5 years, and showing no evidence of decline.
So the question is, can you afford not to have a mobile solution that engages your potential audience and clients equally effectively as your desktop version?
Sites that will not be affected by this change
Desktop only sites: while these will not be affected by mobile-first indexing, it would be remiss of us not to reiterate that – with mobile browsing rapidly on the increase – you should cater for this audience and ensure you have a mobile version.
Responsive websites: as these mobile versions share identical content with the desktop version, mobile-first indexing will simply index the same pages and content
Sites that exist only in Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP): as these sites are designed exclusively for mobile users, they will already be mobile-first indexable.
Sites that will be affected by this change
Sites that use a different URL for their desktop and mobile versions: in this instance, Google will start to index your mobile pages first.
Sites that dynamically serve different content depending on the device: if your site serves differing content to users on mobile devices, Google will index those pages/content first
To ensure that your website is set up optimally for users across all devices and browsers, contact Realnet today on +44 1223 55 08 00.
Image: Google images