Google ranking is so important for businesses nowadays, and now it could all change with the introduction of mobile-first indexing.
With constant updates to its search engine, Google is trying to keep up with the evolving technological needs of humans. It considers over 200 factors within a website to determine its ranking in their search engine, and how it indexes. However, they are only looking at desktop searches.
Mobile phones are becoming the predominant device for online activities. Nowadays, more Google searches take place on mobiles than on computers in 10 countries, including the UK, the US, Japan. Mobile sites are therefore growing to be significantly paramount, so surely it makes sense for Google to primarily view them when it comes to considering indexing?
What to Expect
Rather than viewing desktop pages as the first and foremost version of a site, and treating mobile pages as second best, the updates that Google are making will completely reverse this. Your mobile site will be the first one that Google will look at, and then it will consider your desktop version and rank it from there. If your website is optimised for mobile then it will rank well on both mobile and desktop, but if it is not optimised for mobile, it will negatively affect the ranking for both versions.
Having a responsive design is important when it comes to mobile-first indexing, because it means that you won’t have to change anything. If the primary content and mark-up is exactly the same, page-by-page, across both desktop and mobile sites then you have nothing to worry about.
Tweaks and Adjustments
There are a few changes you can make to your website, and some tests you can run, if you want to make sure you get the best results you can. To start off with, by using the rebots.txt testing tool, you can see whether your mobile version is accessible to Googlebot.
Use other tools to test the speed of your site, because longer loading times affects your Google ranking. By applying Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), it can show you any problems influencing your loading times so you can make changes to reduce them.
As mentioned before, by making sure that the content is consistent throughout both versions, you can gain good indexing. Double check to make sure that there aren’t any headings or titles that are missing from either of the desktop or mobile site, and consider using expandable content so you don’t have to sacrifice any of your text. On desktop sites, using tabs and accordions used to be frowned upon, but with this change, pull-out content will be weighted more. As it increases user experience, it is considered as an important factor for Google ranking.
Finally, the internal link equity needs to be evenly distributed throughout both the desktop and mobile sites otherwise you will encounter penalties. Also, make sure to use Google’s structured data testing tool to ensure that all of your structured data is the same across both devices because it is normally removed from mobile sites.
Google are still experimenting with their algorithms, so mobile-first indexing won’t take place until mid-2018 at the earliest; they will still be using the same search index for now. You’ll only be able to feel the impact of this change if your desktop and mobile sites are considerably different. The general search rankings shouldn’t be affected in any major way.