Babar Khan Javed
Mar 28, 2018

Google finally rolls out mobile-first indexing

After years of releasing free tools that evaluate the speed of mobile sites and make the business case for prioritising it, Google has announced the rollout of mobile-first indexing.

Advertisers and agencies have less that a week to invest in powerful servers, content migration, and a faster site.
Advertisers and agencies have less that a week to invest in powerful servers, content migration, and a faster site.

After years of offering advertisers tools to diagnose the health of websites and develop action items for improving speed on both desktop and mobile, Google has finally done it.

From now on, advertisers, publishers, and agencies that are interested in achieving a high rank in query results (in other words, all advertisers, publishers and agencies) will need to turn all their attention toward mobile-first digital properties.

That's because Google will now rely entirely on mobile sites and the adherence to mobile-first indexing best practices to determine the quality of content for indexing and ranking.

According to the announcement blog post authored by Fan Zhang, a software engineer at Google, site owners and webmasters were informed of the migration through Search Console.

"Mobile-first indexing means that we'll use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help our—primarily mobile—users find what they're looking for," Zhang wrote. "We continue to have one single index that we use for serving search results. We do not have a 'mobile-first index' that’s separate from our main index. Historically, the desktop version was indexed, but increasingly, we will be using the mobile versions of content."

Site owners will see significantly increased crawl rate from the Smartphone Googlebot, Zhang added. Google will also show the mobile version of pages in Search results and Google cached pages.

"Brands who don’t have responsive, dynamic mobile content will see the negative impact of these changes even if this move on its own will not hurt their rankings," said Attila Jakab, managing director of Infectious Media. "If you are brand and you’re not set up for a mobile-first world, you should hear the alarm bells go off, and look at every piece of content you have online through the mobile lens and focus on this as a business priority."

Advertisers and agencies that have created unique URLs for desktop and mobile have been advised to rely on the Search Console to verify both versions of the site. This will be done by checking the URLs and ensuring that the servers supporting the sites can withstand the pressure of the forthcoming spike in site crawl rates—for desktop and mobile.

Google also recommends that site content that appears on a desktop version of a site be updated on the mobile version as well, including text, images, and videos.

For additional best practices to ensure adherence towards mobile-first index, click here.

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