Two months is a long time in search engine optimization land. Sometimes things happen quickly; other times, announcements are made by Google which are followed by a flurry of articles on the internet regarding the latest changes to searching on Google. In the middle of November last year (2016) the news was all about the announcement that Google was launching mobile-first indexing. It seems now that they weren’t launching, but instead they were beginning to test and tweak the mobile-first indexing system in support of replacing the now desktop-first indexing which is Googles current default for scoring elements linked to SEO.
So why did this make the headlines, what is mobile-first indexing and why will it be crucial to our clients’ rankings in the future? Before I go on, in my opinion, based on industry news and a hunch, I feel that we will see mobile indexing go live towards the end of the year or even at the beginning of 2018. I am still reserving the right to be proven wrong and do see a slight percentage for error in my prediction.
As most online searches are now made on mobile devices Google will begin to prioritize page ranking by judging the mobile version of a website. Now, pages are judged for quality on the desktop version of a site; what this means is that the bots are not judging the quality of content on mobile versions. This should not be confused with the many current and verified mobile elements which do influence current rankings. Since a vast majority of searches are now made on the mobile version, this is becoming a problem; one that Google will rectify when the new algorithm is launched. The fact that the index will be mostly comprised of mobile pages means that structured data, snippets and content which are found on a respective mobile version will gradually begin to appear in the search results, replacing the current desktop versions.
We have been aware of the importance of mobile sites for quite some time now and all our clients’ sites are optimized for mobile devices. We will continue that work, and also go forward by always considering what needs to be done to make sure that we are ready the moment that mobile indexing goes live. Measures taken will include but are not be limited to, looking at mobile site configuration, checking canonical links and running structured data tests.
As and when we hear more about timings and effect of mobile-first indexing, we will revisit this subject and share our thoughts as to the best way forward surrounding each unique client’s search engine optimization needs.
Got AMP & Desktop But No Mobile Page? Google Will Index The Desktop Page.
I thought an “update” warranted and should mention that this article was to be released much earlier. As of today I can confirm only that I believe to see fluctuations in the Google search results that can be linked to testing of Google’s new “MFI”. I can also confirm that I still do not see this to be a 100% rollout of the Google “Mobile First Indexing” and expect that to be months away from a fully rolled out core change at Google.