Mobile First Indexing Is Here

Google Rolls Out Mobile First Indexing

Mobile First Indexing represents one of the biggest changes ever for website owners. Is your website ready for the mobile first world?

Back in 2016, Google announced the concept of mobile first indexing as part of its ongoing strategy to recognise that today, the majority of web searches are carried out on mobile devices. In the months that followed, Google has worked on refining the process and carrying out exhaustive testing on the new indexing method.

Finally, Google has published confirmation that those sites following best practice for mobile first design will be migrated across to the new indexing system. This is enormously important for site owners worldwide and means mobile web design has to be at the forefront of their minds.

What is mobile first indexing?

It is important to distinguish between “mobile first indexing” and a “mobile first index” – the latter phrase is often used, and suggests that Google has a separate index for desktop and mobile sites. This is a misconception. There is one Google index, there always has been and to the best of our knowledge and belief, there always will be.

The difference lies in the way Google crawls your site and gathers its information to perform indexing. Until now, Google has crawled web pages from a desktop perspective, and if you have desktop and mobile versions of your site, it is the desktop that it has evaluated. That’s not to say it has ignored mobile friendliness, and having a mobile design has always counted in your favour and meant Google will love you all the more.

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The difference now, however, is that mobile indexing means the Google bots will look at your content from a “mobile first” perspective, ie as if being viewed from a smartphone or tablet.

Are you mobile friendly?

It is not just Google that says the world is going “mobile first.” Independent research suggests that the numbers published by Google might actually be a little conservative, and that as many as 60 percent of web searches are conducted on mobiles.

Ultimately, whether the true number is 55 percent or 65 percent is beside the point. The clear message is that if your site is not configured to be easily accessed from a mobile device, you will be haemorrhaging visitors and losing business hand over fist.

The shift towards mobile first indexing means that in addition to this, your site stands a very real risk of slowly but surely slipping down the search rankings. Google is sending out messages telling people not to panic if their sites are not mobile friendly, and that for now, the Google bots will continue to trawl them in the old way, and they will still be ranked. But the key words in that sentence are “for now.”

Get your mobile shop in order

With the time, effort and expense that Google has put into the new indexing system, it is disingenuous to suppose that Google will continue to run two systems in parallel forever. The mobile first world has arrived, and websites need to understand the fact that the future is here. If your site is not optimised for mobile first, now is the time to get it in order.

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