Mobile-first Indexing: What you need to know in 2018

Roughly a 3 minute read by Shree

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The day has finally arrived. Google has announced that ‘mobile first indexing’ is now rolling out.

A brief history

When Google launched in 1998, there wasn’t a mobile phone in sight! As such, their crawler focused on indexing the desktop version (read: the only version) of a website.

Nine years later, the iPhone started to change the game and mobile browsing  grew rapidly.

Now Google has drawn a line in the sand.

More users searching on mobile means they are now predominantly using the mobile version of a website’s content for indexing and ranking.

So, they’re moving from their desktop index to their mobile one?

Not quite.

It’s a common misconception that there is a ‘desktop index’ and a ‘mobile index’.

Google has only ever had one index and will continue to do so.

The change is mainly focused on which version of your site’s content they evaluate

My site is optimised for desktop, what should I do?

Google has explained that they’re transitioning sites to be evaluated based on their mobile site when the site is ready to be transitioned.

This will be a slow process, giving people who need it, time to get up to speed.

This means that if you don’t currently have a mobile site, Google will continue to evaluate your site based on the desktop version.

That being said, we very much recommend looking at the best way to move to a mobile-friendly solution as quickly as possible to future-proof your site.

How do I check if my site is mobile-friendly?

There are two ways to do this.

1. Use the mobile friendly testing tool

The first is a spot check using Google’s mobile friendly test.

Enter your URL, run the test and see the results!

2. For a deeper look at your site, you’ll need to look at Search Console.

In the classic version, click Search Traffic > Mobile Usability.

Here, you’ll find a list of pages that need tweaking to bring them up to scratch.

How do I know if Google has migrated my site to mobile-first indexing?

Don’t worry, Google is sending Search Console messages to sites when mobile-first indexing is enabled.

It’ll look something like this:

Mobile First Indexing Email Example

My mobile site rocks! Will I see a traffic boost?

Sorry to say, we don’t think you will.

To quote Google on this:

Mobile-indexing is rolling out more broadly. Being indexed this way has no ranking advantage and operates independently from our mobile-friendly assessment.

So if you do see a jump in traffic, it’s likely a coincidence.

Remember, killer content still wins out

Google use many, many signals when figuring out where to rank sites.

Mobile-friendliness is one aspect of them.

Remember, they will still show a slow, desktop page if their content is the best out there. Time to get working on your SEO content strategy.

If you have any questions around any of this, feel free to email us at hello@engageinteractive.co.uk and we’ll do our best to help!

Shree works on creating smart strategies to help improve organic visibility, traffic and revenue for clients.