Google Begins Rolling Out Mobile-First Indexing

Google announced on March 26, 2018 that the company is rolling out its mobile-first indexing to all users. The company formerly made the announcement that it was in the testing and experimentation phase for mobile-first indexing a year and a half ago.

The search engine giant has started to migrate sites that use best practices for mobile to their new indexing.

There were “over 50% of North Americans with a smartphone in 2011,” states Vancouver SEO agency Edkent Media. This figure has since hit 64% penetration in 2017.

Google’s mobile-first indexing will now move from the traditional personal computer user to mobile users. Google’s ranking system, indexing and crawling systems all used the desktop versions of websites when ranking websites. The increase in mobile users, which has surpassed desktop users, has led Google to recognize mobile users as their primary visitors. The new indexing will provide better results for mobile users and desktop users.

Google reiterates that the company will only have a single index and will not have a separate index for mobile and desktop. The company will start using more mobile versions of content in their search index rather than desktop versions, which have been historically used.

The company will increasingly start to use mobile versions of websites in their ranking algorithm.

Google’ Smartphone Googlebot will be seen more frequently on sites that are migrating to the index. Sites that will be migrating to mobile-first indexing will receive a notification on their Search Console that the site is in the process of migrating. Google cache results will also start to show mobile versions.

Migration will happen in waves, according to the release. Website owners that have not been included in the first wave of indexing should not be concerned. The company claims that mobile-first indexing has nothing to do with how content is ranked and has everything to do with how content is gathered.

There will be no advantage in rankings on the new index.

Sites that maintain only desktop content will still be represented in Google’s index. The company has encouraged websites to become mobile-friendly for years and still encourages mobile-friendly options.

Google has used mobile-friendly indicators since 2015 to measure mobile-friendly content. Sites that are mobile-friendly will perform better during mobile searches. The company also announced that slow-loading websites will perform “less well” on both mobile and desktop versions of websites starting in July 2018.

The company also reiterates that site speed and mobile-friendliness are just two indicators used in determining relevant content. Search results may continue to show slow-loading and non-mobile-friendly content when it is the most relevant.

Google is encouraging websites to shift to “mobile-friendly” designs. Venturebeat claims that mobile-friendly content already ranks higher in the search results. Faster mobile sites will also rank higher in the search results in July.

Google provides documentation for website owners, developers and administrators that want to follow best practices for mobile-first indexing. The documentation also provides a list of what’s changing determined by the type of site a user has.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.