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Google’s index mobile changes and what it means for your website

Digital Content

20/07/2023

34

Why does Google index mobile first and what does it mean?

Google’s mobile-first indexing is a strategy where Google predominantly index mobile versions of a website to determine its ranking in search results.

This shift is driven by the increasing dominance of mobile devices and the need to deliver optimal user experiences. Google aims to ensure that its search results are relevant and useful to the majority of users who access the web through mobile devices.

mobile first indexing

What to note for mobile-first indexing

This approach allows Google to evaluate websites based on their mobile versions, ensuring that they are optimized for mobile users. This change is in response to the growing mobile usage and the recognition that mobile-friendly websites are crucial for a seamless browsing experience for users on the go.

In essence, Google’s mobile-first indexing aims to adapt to the changing user behavior and provide the best possible search results.

Everything you need to know when Google index mobile

The index mobile change is a significant one, and it will surely require some changes in SEO strategies. You need not to worry, however, as this section will give you valuable tips to keep up with this change.

You can see if your site has been indexed

It is possible to check if your website is up for index mobile using Google Search Console. Here is how you can do it:

  • Go to the Google Search Console and sign in using your Google account.
  • Enter a URL of one of your web pages into the box on the top of the screen
  • Run a URL inspection and check the “Crawled as” section of the results.
  • If it says “Googlebot smartphone”, then it means your site has been switched to mobile-first indexing.

As of now, most websites have moved to mobile-first indexing. Typically, you will receive a notification from Google Search Console informing you of the change. Additionally, Google’s crawling and indexing systems will automatically switch to mobile-first indexing when they determine your website is ready.

mobile first indexing

Use Google Search Console to check indexing status

Remember to regularly monitor your website’s mobile compatibility and follow best practices to ensure a smooth transition to mobile-first indexing.

You cannot choose to opt out

Website owners do not have the option to opt out of mobile-first indexing. Google has decided to index mobile as the default approach for ranking websites. This means that Google will primarily use the mobile version of your website for indexing and ranking purposes.

While you cannot opt out of mobile-first indexing, you can still take steps to optimize your website for mobile devices. It is essential that you prioritize the mobile version while designing, developing, and making content for the website.

Following best practices for mobile-friendly design will help ensure your website performs well in the mobile-first indexing era.

Google will only index once

Despite the change being called mobile-first indexing, Google will not index mobile first then move on to desktop. The term “mobile-first indexing” actually refers to the Googlebot that crawls and indexes sites.

If the mobile and desktop versions of your site have equivalent content, then you will not see many changes from the switch.

Maintain consistency between desktop and mobile

This tip is influenced by the previous one. As Google only index mobile, you will need to offer a consistent experience for users across both platforms. The website elements that you need to pay attention to are:

mobile first indexing

Maintain your site consistency between devices

  • Content
  • Metadata
  • Structured data
  • Ad placement
  • Visual elements
  • Meta robot tags

Some website developers consider leaving out certain elements to maximize website performance on mobile. Instead of this, doing search engine optimization will help you create website-friendly content for either platform.

You can test your site’s mobile compatibility

There are two very good pieces of news for you amidst this influential change. The first one is Google offer a mobile-friendly test tool for you to easily examine your website.

The tool will be able to show you areas of improvement that may hinder the crawling process. Using the results, you can both allow Google to crawl your site easily and improve its quality.

To use the tool, you need to follow these steps:

  • Accessing the tool: The Google Mobile-Friendly Test tool can be accessed through a web browser. Simply search for “Google Mobile-Friendly Test” to find it.
  • Entering the URL: Enter the URL of the web page you want to test in the provided field. Make sure to include the complete URL, including the “http://” or “https://” prefix.
  • Initiating the test: Once you have entered the URL, click on the “Run Test” button. The tool will then analyze the page to assess its mobile-friendliness.
  • Test results: After a brief analysis, the tool will display the test results. It will indicate whether the page is mobile-friendly or not. If the page passes the test, it will show a “Page is mobile-friendly” message along with additional information. If it does not, the tool will provide a list of issues or errors that need to be addressed.

Google offers a guide on mobile indexing

Google’s algorithms are mostly well kept secrets, but when it comes to the index mobile change, there is a comprehensive guide available.

This guide will provide you with essential tips and best practices like:

  • Allow Google to access your content
  • Maintain consistency between desktop and mobile content
  • Check your structured data, metadata, images, videos, etc.
  • Troubleshoot issues
  • Best practices for separate URLs

The relationship between mobile usability and mobile-first indexing

Mobile usability and mobile-first indexing are two very different concepts with a significant connection.

Mobile-friendliness does not affect the indexing ability itself. Even if a page is considered unusable on mobile, Googlebot can still crawl its content. What it actually affects is the page’s ability to rank. The poor experiences and content that you present to users will take a toll on the page’s ranking.

mobile first indexing

Mobile-friendliness affects mobile-first indexing

This is why it is important to have a user-centric approach to developing websites. The main audience of your web pages are the users, not search engines. Delivering the best experience possible for users while taking into account the indexing criterias is the way to go.

Loading speed is a significant factor

Page speed is vital for maintaining a good user experience, so it is undoubtedly an important ranking factor. For mobile-first indexing, page speed plays a tremendous role and can negatively impact a site’s ranking.

Good loading speed reduces bounce rates and increases user engagement, as visitors are more likely to stay and explore the content. Additionally, fast-loading pages consume less data, making them particularly valuable for users with limited internet connectivity or those on mobile devices.

Overall, loading speed affects website performance, user satisfaction, and search engine visibility. This makes it a key metric when Google index mobile.

Final thoughts

Mobile-first indexing has revolutionized the way websites are ranked and indexed by search engines like Google. With the increasing dominance of mobile devices in online browsing, it has become imperative for businesses to prioritize mobile-friendly experiences.

The shift towards mobile-first indexing underscores the need to index mobile versions effectively, which correlates with a seamless mobile experience. Embrace a user-centric strategy and stay updated with the new algorithm developments to stay on top of your game.

Do you want to learn more about the complicated algorithms of search engines? Check out more of these articles on our website. On Digitals also offer SEO services that can give you a helping hand in improving your website’s rankings. Contact On Digitals to know more about how to grow your business in the digital realm.


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