Google has recently announced its mobile-first indexing of the web is now starting to roll out, after a year and a half of testing and experimentation. Back in 2016, Google first detailed its plan to change the way its search index operates, explaining how its algorithms will eventually be shifted to use the mobile version of the website content to index its pages, as well as to understand its structured data and to display snippets on the site from the Google search results page. In December 2017, Google said it’d started to transition a small handful of sites to mobile indexing, but declined to say which properties had moved.
Mobile first indexing means Google will use the mobile version of a web page for indexing and ranking, to better help our – mainly mobile – users find what they’re looking for, the company writes in a blog post. By primarily mobile, Google is referring to the fact that the majority of people who use Google search today now do so from mobile devices, and have done so since 2015. Google also explains that it may have one index for search results page, not a mobile-first index that is separate from its main index. For instance, there are occasions when a non mobile-friendly page still has the best info and will appear higher, Google says.
“This algorithm change has made mobile-optimized web pages increasingly important for appearing on Google search results. If you haven’t already, convert to mobile!” Says the creator of Candlegrove Media, a news media corporation.
Nevertheless, Google has started to prioritize mobile sites in many ways. For instance, it started to increase the rank of mobile-friendly web pages in mobile search results pages back in 2015, and recently said it was adding a signal that uses page speed to help determine a page’s mobile search ranking. Starting in July 2018, slow loading content will be down ranked. While Google today claims the mobile-friendly indexing will not directly impact how content is ranked, it does note that having a site’s mobile-friendly content indexed in this new way will probably help the site perform better for search engine optimization.
Google isn’t shifting all sites over to the new mobile-first indexing today – only the first wave. Particularly, Google selected those sites which are already following the best practices for mobile first indexing, it says. And it’ll favor the mobile version of a web page over its fast loading AMP pages. Those sites who’ve shifted will be notified through Search Console, says Google, and will begin seeing increased visits from Googlebot. Then, Google will display the mobile version of the site’s pages in its search results page and Google cache pages. Google tells the webmasters of sites which aren’t yet mobile optimized to not panic yet. If you only have desktop content, you will continue to be represented in our index, assures the Google announcement. The company didn’t specify when the rollout of the mobile-first indexing would complete.