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Google: Mobile-first indexing for all

Google announced that they will soon be indexing 100% of all websites with a mobile-first approach. They do this already where a website has a mobile-friendly version of their website which has near-identical content to the desktop version.

What is mobile-first indexing?

Google continuously crawls the web to index and rank websites so that search results presented to users stay relevant. Google began indexing websites through the mobile-first Googlebot on July 1st 2019, meaning that any website that was new to the web or previously unknown to Google was indexed via the mobile version of the website first, and the desktop version second. Since the majority of users now access Google Search via a mobile device, it makes sense to crawl mobile first, so the search results will be more accurate to a mobile user. These changes will come into effect in September 2020.

Do I need to do anything?

There are a few checks you can do to ensure that your site is crawled and indexed correctly. Google has a very good comprehensive list, which you can check here.

Some of the main points to consider are listed below:

 

  • Make sure your content is the same across your desktop and mobile sites. Almost all indexing comes from here, if it has less, consider updating it.  
  • Googlebot won't load content that requires the user to interact, such as clicking or typing to load, so ensure that your primary content can be seen.
  • Ensure you are not using the 'disallow directive': allow Google to crawl your URLs.
  • For images, use the same descriptive alt text as the desktop version, and ensure images are good quality.
  • Use the same Meta-Data on both versions of your site.
  • You should include the same structured data markup on both the mobile and desktop versions of the site. URLs shown within structured data on mobile pages should be the mobile version of the URL. Avoid adding unnecessary structured data if it isn’t relevant to the specific content of a page.


The lack of a mobile friendly website could impact negatively on your rankings. Whilst desktop sites are still included in the index, it makes sense to have a mobile friendly site to maximise your ranking ability in search results.

What's the general opinion?

Most sites now have a mobile-friendly version, so this announcement won’t be as big of a shock as, say, the Google core update. Through mobile phone is the most common way people access the internet these days, and to have a fast-loading, responsive site is far more appealing to a user than having to figure out how to view a desktop site on a mobile.

What should we take from this?

It's a step that makes sense. It doesn't mean your desktop site won't be indexed, but it does mean that Google is keeping up with its users, and expects website owners to do the same. This means that search engine results pages will be more accurate for those searching on a mobile, making the online experience quicker, more accessible and easier to navigate. Better user experience leads to increased sales, more enquiries and better interaction with customers, which for a business wanting to reach out online, is a great reason to get on board and ensure that your company website is mobile-friendly.