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Google Makes Mobile-First Indexing Official

Internet giant Google announced its first wave of mobile-first indexing of the web on March 27, 2018, embracing websites that are mobile-friendly and responsive. This new ranking feature recognizes the way people access the web today, which is more often through mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. The mobile version of the site will determine its rank-worthiness on the search engine.

This plan to change the way its search index operates was first made known by Google in November of 2016, and a handful of sites were transitioned to mobile-first indexing in December 2017. Last month, the tech titan made it official that it will crawl, index and rank a page based on its mobile version instead of the desktop version.

Behavior Trends – Mobile vs Desktop Devices

The switch to mobile-first indexing is a result of user behavior trends that show a majority of people nowadays perform searches on their smartphone. Instead of relying on the traditional desktop version of websites to present and rank content in the Search Engine Results Pages, the mobile version of a website becomes the starting point now for what Google includes in the index, and the baseline for determining rankings. A site optimized for mobile will rank well on both mobile and desktop search, while a site that is not optimized for mobile may not rank as well as competing websites (especially when the search originates from a mobile device).

Mobile-Friendly, Responsive Design

As Google begins indexing and ranking sites based on user mobile experience, it will look at mobile-first best practices when providing search results. A mobile optimized website includes automatic adjustment of the layout to fit the size of the device being used, speedy page load times across all devices, and large enough buttons, links, and text for easy viewing and usability. The aim is to deliver the most comprehensive and efficient experience for its users, majority of which are mobile users.

Migration to Mobile-First Indexing

Mobile-First Indexing EnabledNot all sites will be shifted by Google to mobile-first indexing in one fell swoop. First in line will be the sites specifically tabbed by Google as “ready” enough for the change to have minimal impact. This phased roll out, which started toward the end of 2017, will give webmasters time to make their websites responsive to mobile devices. The sites that have been shifted will receive a notice via Google Search Console, see increased visits from the Smartphone Googlebot, and mobile versions will show up in Google search results and in the Google cached pages.

Google’s decision to make index pages mobile-first leaves website owners with little choice but to adapt to the change to maintain traffic and rankings. The surge in mobile device usage has become a major focus for Google, and it wants to ensure that mobile websites are quick, secure, and provide a high-quality user experience. The future is very much mobile now, and Google favors mobile-friendly websites in its mobile and desktop search results.

Is Your Business’ Website Enabled for Mobile-First Indexing?

The easiest way to check if your website has is part of the mobile-first index is to check Google Search Console notifications. If your website is mobile-first index enabled, you will receive a notification message indicating this fact. Here is an example of this notification:

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If you’re not sure if your website is mobile-friendly, we can perform an assessment for you free of charge. If you know that your website is not mobile-friendly or responsive, we can make websites mobile-friendly without a complete website re-design. Contact us today to see how Mackmedia can help!

Update: 07/03/2018

In the past couple of days, a vast majority of our clients’ websites have received notifications in Google Search Console indicating that mobile-first indexing has been enabled. This has occurred in batches, and Google appears to be pushing an additional round of enabling mobile-first indexing on a websites that are compatible.