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Get the Latest on Google’s Mobile-First Indexing

If you aren’t thinking in terms of mobile search when it comes to your website, now’s the time to do so. Google announced a few years ago that it would move to a mobile-first index when indexing and ranking websites, and it has been doing just that for several years now. What is Google’s mobile-first indexing? What does it mean for your company’s website?

Mobile-first indexing means that the mobile version of your site is prioritized when Google is looking at its ranking factors. One related ranking factor is the highly important and recently updated Page Experience, which we will tell you more about shortly.

What other changes are part of this new type of indexing? While desktop users will still see your website’s desktop URL if it is separate from your company’s mobile site, only the mobile website is now indexed as far as its pages go, currently for most websites and eventually for all sites.

What else do you need to know to understand and plan your mobile and desktop site pages for Google mobile-first indexing? Don’t worry—our team at Market MindShift has answers to all your most pressing questions.

How Do I Know Google is Mobile Indexing First?

Any website published after July 1, 2019, is categorized with a mobile index as Google’s default. Google announced this change in May 2019. In 2020 Google announced that most—but not all—websites were being ranked via mobile-first indexing.

While Google stresses the importance of page experience and mobile-friendly design for all modern websites, having a site that is optimized for mobile use doesn’t mean that it is currently eligible for the mobile-first index. On the flip side, a site that isn’t ready for mobile use can still be indexed using its mobile URL if Google deems it is time to update the indexing.

Since it is hard to know if your website is currently eligible for the Google mobile-first index, it is important to ensure that your website’s desktop and mobile versions contain the same information and always focus on user experience.

How Google’s Mobile-First Indexing is Affecting Your Website

If your mobile site lacks in content, you will likely see a sharp decrease in traffic eventually, affecting your website and your bottom line. What can you do to update your site, so you don’t have to worry about losing website views?

Here are some examples from Matt Southern regarding Google’s expectations for the mobile version and desktop version of your website:

  • The mobile site should have the same content, headings, and structured data as the desktop website.
  • The meta robots tags should be the same on both site versions.
  • Googlebot should be able to access and render the same content and resources on both site versions.

We will explore these concepts and more later in this article.

Google Search Advocate John Mueller has also discussed Google’s expectations for mobile-first indexing in detail. Google’s mobile-first indexing best practices are also vital and extremely helpful for any business owner looking to have a properly optimized website for mobile use and discovery.

It’s important to think about the mobile page experience for every website, even if yours doesn’t currently get any mobile traffic. This may actually be due to your website not being currently optimized for mobile device use, causing your target audience to use your desktop site when they’d rather be on mobile. Thinking about the end user experience and looking to update and enhance your site will always benefit you and your target customers in the long run.

How to Prepare Your Website for Google’s Mobile First Indexing

Now that you know the importance of the mobile index, you are probably wondering what you can do to improve your website and prepare it for this mobile-first change. Even if your site isn’t currently being indexed on a mobile-first basis, it will be soon. As a result, you need to know how to prepare your site for the change. We will expand on Matt Southern’s suggestions above to show you how you can enhance your website and provide a solid mobile experience while maintaining your desktop site and its quality.

1. Display Important Content On All Website Versions

If you have a different mobile site compared to your desktop site, make sure that each mobile page contains the same vital information as each desktop page. Examples of important content to include would be internal links, images, structured data, and similar basics that users expect to find on a modern website.

As mentioned earlier, you need to have enough content on the mobile version of a page. If you don’t, mobile indexing is likely to cause you to lose traffic.

2. Allow Googlebot to Access and Render Your Website Content

You can allow Googlebot to access your website content by using the same meta robots tags on the mobile site as you use on the desktop site. You should also avoid using lazy-loading primary content—such as content that requires user engagement. Allowing Googlebot to crawl your resources will also help.

3. Verify Your Site’s Structured Data

To verify structured data, ensure it is the same on your website’s desktop and mobile version. You also need to ensure that the URLs are accurate on both site versions for proper indexing.

4. Improve Page Speed on Mobile

Page speed is an important ranking factor when it comes to Google’s mobile index and the page experience update that Google now prioritizes. You can learn more about page experience and what it means for your website on Search Engine Journal.

5. Look Out for Errors on Mobile

How can you keep an eye on errors that appear on your mobile website? Google Search Console can help you keep an eye on the technical SEO aspects of your mobile site and handle any issues as they arise. The “Core Web Vitals” and “mobile usability” reports will help you stay informed if you regularly review them.

Remember that, as with most elements of digital marketing, mobile site optimization is never really finished. It is an ongoing and evolving task that will have to grow with your business and the future of online marketing.

Help With SEO and More From Market MindShift

If you still can’t quite wrap your head around the ins and outs of Google’s mobile-first indexing, you aren’t alone. From search engines’ constant updates to the deep knowledge required to handle technical SEO tasks, it can be hard for a business owner to keep up with all the details that a solid digital marketing strategy requires.

That is where Market MindShift comes in. Our talented and experienced team can help you with your online marketing efforts at every stage of your marketing strategy, from mobile indexing matters to marketing content creation. Get in touch by calling (480) 750-2252 or using our online contact form.

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