Mobile-First Indexing Overview
An important change to how Google will index sites in their search is due to be rolled out this year. It is called Mobile-First Indexing. I’m quoting their own words below as it sums it up very simply,
To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first. Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site — Google Webmasters’ Blog
Google claims this is an experiment at present and I have no insight to whether it becomes more than. However, Google needs its index and results to represent the majority of users. Given that the majority are now mobile searchers I think it is likely that the Mobile-First index becomes the de facto eventually.
How Could This Affect You?
Google make clear that for now their search index will not be greatly affected by this. If you don’t have a mobile friendly version of your website then Google will continue to rank based on the desktop version. However, if you have a poorly configured mobile website then I think this might prove detrimental. It could be better to have no mobile version rather than a poor one. I can’t stress enough that this is looking at things in the shortish term.
In the medium term, I cannot see how anyone can contemplate thinking of getting by without a mobile friendly website. Already google state that mobile users make up 50% of search traffic* and this is only likely to increase. The rate of increase in mobile searching over the last 18 months or so has been phenomenal. And remember, Google already give a search index boost to websites which have a properly configured mobile version.
In the longer term, I can’t see a scenario where Google don’t further push for all websites to be fully mobile responsive. I think it is very likely that websites that aren’t will be increasingly punished on the search index. After all, their attitude towards unencrypted websites gives a clue.
What you need to do about Mobile-First Indexing
If you have had a WordPress website built by me in the last couple of years then you already have a fully, responsive mobile friendly website. Nothing more needs to be done other than usual updates and regular SEO checks.
Older sites are likely it is not mobile friendly and eventually you may be affected by the introduction of mobile-first indexing. You are also already losing out on SEO potential and perhaps time is ripe for a website overhaul and upgrade. Why not get more than up to date and ahead of the curve as well.
* Looking at the Google Analytics from the sites I manage, the level seems lower — but still 25% — 30%.
External reading — FAQ: All about the Google mobile-first index
Originally published at Visualeze Design for Small Business Websites.