The term “mobile-first indexing” has been in news lately. A lot can be heard about the topic and it is perceived as another feather in the crown of Google’s efforts towards making the web more mobile-friendly such that it also reflects the behavior trends of the user.
However, a lot of commotion has been going around as people are trying hard to understand what this new feature would mean for the average business user. Questions like whether or not they will be needed to change the format of their website, whether or not their site is mobile-friendly keeps flooding their mind.
Google is having a hard time trying to contemplate the changes it needs to make to handle certain issues which it has been facing for some time now. However, this is hampering the working of the various website owners who rely on entirely on the Google traffic to earn their revenue.
Google has now resorted to the use of the mobile version of the web in the form of their main search engine index. Now a search engine index is a bunch of documents which any search engine discovers by crawling through the various website links. Likewise, till date Google used to crawl the web from the desktop browser’s point of view but now with the changed system it will now crawl from a mobile browser’s point of view.
Crawling is the term used to describe the process pursued by Google to follow various web links to discover new pages. This is the place which features a great possibility of your content being discovered by Google and accordingly Google may apply no follow and disavow file rules and regulations.
Now to understand how mobile-first indexing is going to affect the lives of the average business users, we need to first understand what the term “mobile-first indexing” actually means.
Mobile-first indexing means that Google will include the mobile version of your website as the starting point of Google’s list of the index and it will become the ultimate criteria on which the ranking of your website will be determined. Once you monitor the crawlbot traffic on your site you will see a market increase in the traffic on your website from the Smartphone Googlebot and the pages’ cached versions will be basically the mobile version of your page.
Mobile-first indexing can be better understood if we understand what indexing actually means. It is the process of increasing the usability of your website by making it more user-friendly. By the process of Indexing search engines like Google make a copy of your webpage in a certain format which is beneficial to help in the proper ranking algorithm.
It is termed “mobile-first” since it is not confined to mobile-only index. In case any website doesn’t have a user-friendly mobile webpage then its desktop version is taken into consideration for indexing.
However, the lack of user-friendly mobile webpage does have a negative impact on the ranking of their webpage. Naturally, in this scenario a website with a user-friendly mobile webpage will receive a potentially higher ranking even for the desktop users.
Now the questions that arise in this scenario are:
What if I Don’t Have a Mobile Webpage?
According to Google, not having a mobile webpage, responsive or mobile friendly website then In this case, Google will take it upon itself to crawl your desktop webpage but your ranking will affect in SERPs result because google consider your website as a poor user experience in comparison to mobile friendly websites.
However, if you have a mobile webpage you need to make sure that links available on your mobile webpage coincide with the links on your desktop version. Otherwise Google will be unable to consume the exact content and wouldn’t be able to rank your webpage by the process of crawling like it did to your desktop version.
What Problems Might I Face if I Have Different Contents on The Desktop and Mobile Webpage?
Now, if your site doesn’t have a device type redirect or if it doesn’t feature rel=alternate and canonical tags setup, then you might entail the chance that the Google ranking system will check the content only on your mobile webpage and will not check the check the content present on your desktop webpage.
Hence it is recommended to have the same content on both your mobile and desktop webpage, otherwise Googlebot will face a difficulty to discover the high-quality content present on your mobile webpage, leading to the decrease of the rankings of your webpage.
You can see with this simple example.
Content is like water and if you put water in any shape or size, water will take their shape and size. So content is important in both version of websites, and same content will be on both websites.
Will This Affect The Rankings of The Web Pages?
No, if your website is mobile friendly, this should not change the overall ranking of the websites. However, a small change is expected but it is yet too soon to predict anything about the rankings. The main goal of this change is not let indexing change have a large impact on the current rankings.
However, if your mobile webpage has lesser and poor quality content as compared to that present on your desktop webpage then you can potentially face a threat to have a lower ranking. That’s’ why Google always recommends the webpage owners to have the same content, page-by-page on their desktop and mobile webpage so that the rankings remain unchanged.
Will This Change How I Should Serve Ads/Content on My Mobile Webpage?
In case the presence of advertisements on your webpage is making the loading slow or is creating a poor user experience, then you need to really reconsider it. It might potentially lower your rankings. If you wish to hide certain content from your mobile webpage in order to save space, then it will no longer be an issue as then the content would be seen in the same light as if the content was loaded in a fully visible manner. However, the content should be still crawlable.
This is an incredibly mobile-friendly ranking host. However, if your webpage is not mobile friendly, Google will not even take it into consideration for ranking.
In the previous index method, the desktop content was indexed and was utilized to feature the listings for both mobile and desktop users. This process is followed by the use of a friendly ranking system which boosts the content to increase its ranking in the Google’s mobile listing. Contents which aren’t mobile-friendly do not function well in this ranking system either.
In this new method, mobile content first gets indexed and is then used to show the listings both on the desktop and the mobile web pages. Then the mobile-friendly pages are boosted to have a mobile-friendly ranking.
If You Have a Separate Mobile Webpage, Then You Need To Look Out For The Following:
- Content: Firstly, you need to make sure that the mobile version of your webpage contains high quality and valuable content exactly same as the one which exists on your desktop. The content is ranked on the basis of its quality and matter. You can also attract text, videos and images to it. However, you need to make sure that the content present on your webpage is mobile-friendly and can be easily crawled by the search engines. It should also be indexable, that is, it should possess all the alt-attributes for the images present
- Structured data: The data present on your mobile webpage should be inclusive of the same structure data markup which should be present on both your desktop and mobile webpage. The URLs which are features on the structured data of your website should be the mobile version of the URLs present on your mobile webpage. However, you should avoid adding miscellaneous structured data, the ones which are not relevant to the content present on the page.
- Metadata: You must ensure that the titles and meta descriptions which are present on your mobile webpage are identical to the one on your desktop webpage. Owing to the official guidance, it is mentioned that the content should be equivalent yet not identical. You can choose to put identical content, however, your rankings will remain unchanged as long as your content on both the desktop webpage and your mobile webpage remains identical. However, you need to make sure that both the contents convey the same information and the relevant keywords are included in them.
- Social metadata: Various social metadata like the twitter cards, OpenGraph tags should be present in both the desktop and mobile version of your webpage.
- Search Console verification: Once you have done the verification of your desktop site in Google Search console, then you need to add and do the verification of your mobile website as well.
- Server capacity: Most importantly you need to make sure whether your host servers can deal with the increased crawl rate of Google. This condition is applicable only for the sites whose mobile version has a separate host.
Some Case Studies on Responsive Webdesign
Here you can see that what is the the differences between mobile friendly and desktop version websites.
You can see that desktop version and mobile version is different. On mobile version of websites, websites is more compact but they have same size and information.
So if you want to rank well in Search Engine, your website should be responsive or mobile friendly.
Why Google Need to Roll Out Mobile First Indexing?
In Today, most of the people perform their search query on mobile or tablet. Out of 5, 3 search query perform on mobile now a days and 77% of searches are performing on mobile at home or work place.