Over the last few days, notices have appeared in Google Search Console highlighting that mobile first indexing has been activated for all the accounts we’re connected to. This suggests that the long-awaited mobile first indexing has finally rolled out across all sites!
Google has been teasing this rollout for over a year and began officially rolling it out at the beginning of 2018, albeit very slowly! It would seem that they’ve now completed the testing on this and have pushed this out for a wide-scale rollout.
What is mobile first indexing?
In response to increased web traffic coming through mobile devices, Google has changed its default web crawler to mobile. This means that they will view your site as if visiting via a mobile device. This also means that the on-page factors of your site are judged on the mobile version, not the desktop version.
How do I optimise for mobile first indexing?
In order to optimise for mobile first indexing, you need to ensure that any important content on your site is available via mobile. We’ve seen the biggest issues here with on-page descriptions and H1 tags, as many sites hide these at a certain threshold. This would mean that Google can’t read them and therefore the site gets no credit for that information. The recommendation here would be to always have this content visible. However, where SEO’s would have previously recommended against hiding content in a ‘read more’ drop-down, under mobile first indexing this is fine.
The next consideration would be the internal linking. We’ve seen a lot of sites using truncated menus in order to save space in the mobile navigation. Under the new indexing method, only the links available on the mobile navigation will be followed. This could mean that any pages left out will suffer as they may receive less internal link authority, or possibly not crawled at all. To combat this we’d recommend that all important URL’s are linked to from the mobile menu. Again, the use of ‘View More’ links would be fine here.
What if I don’t have a mobile site?
Whether you have a mobile version of your website or not, Google will still view your website as if from a mobile device. But as long as the site can be viewed on mobile this shouldn’t be a problem for mobile first indexing.
However, Google still favours mobile-friendly sites for queries carried out on a mobile device. Plus, most sites are seeing at least 50% of their traffic coming from mobile devices!
This is the most recent in a long list of changes Google are making in favour of mobile browsing, and they are actively working with web development partners to ensure the web is mobile friendly.