Earlier this year, Google announced the migration of sites that followed best practices for mobile displays. Fast-forward to September, and website owners have started receiving emails from Google saying that mobile-first indexing is enabled on their site.
What is Mobile-First Indexing?
Mobile-first indexing essentially means that Googlebot will use the mobile version of a website to assess it for ranking on mobile devices. The change has occurred as previously, Google only used the desktop version of websites to determine their index on search engine result pages (SERP). This meant that mobile users may have had difficulties viewing certain websites that weren’t mobile-friendly, such as having to zoom-in on content or incurring lengthy load time.
Email from Google
How will this affect mobile searches?
Mobile searches are increasing every year, as a report by Search Engine Land found that 57% of traffic in 2017 came from mobile devices. Webmasters will need to ensure that all their pages are fully optimised for mobile, as the Googlebot will crawl for various mobile-friendly factors such as content, hreflang and PageSpeed.
Mobile-first indexing, as the name suggests, means that the mobile version of the site will be the primary consideration for indexing, however the desktop site will still determine rankings if a mobile version is not available. Therefore, if you are currently developing a mobile site, it might be best not to have one until it is fully completed, as an incomplete mobile version may hinder your rankings.
If you have a mobile version of your website that is optimised and is SEO friendly, then great! But if you don’t, it’s recommended to enquire about mobile design, to ensure that you can attract new visitors who are increasingly using mobile search.