There Is No Separate Index for Mobile
Instead, mobile-first indexing means Google primarily uses the mobile version of the webpage for ranking and indexing purposes.
In 2018, Google explained that with mobile-first indexing, the URL of the mobile-friendly version of your site is indexed.
Gradual but Imminent Transition
In November 2016, Google began experimentation with mobile-first indexing. The company’s search engine indexing, crawling and ranking systems used only the desktop version of the webpage’s content until then.
The search engine service provider has identified that relying exclusively on the desktop version can lead to challenges for searchers using their mobiles as desktop content varies from mobile content on occasion. At present, most searchers use mobiles.
This makes mobile-first indexing important as its goal is to use the mobile version of the webpage to ensure that the search results align with the content that the user views when they click through.
However, this transition will be gradual and Google elaborates that ranking is not a consideration currently, yet:
Increased Mobile Search Efficacy
The focus of mobile-first indexing is how content is gathered rather than how it is ranked. Mobile-first indexing does not have an advantage regarding rank over mobile content that is not gathered through this method yet or content for desktop. Furthermore, desktop content will continue to enjoy representation in the index.
Notably, Google will not be implementing two search indices as proposed earlier. The “mobile-first index” is not separate from the main index which has been in existence since Google initially started crawling pages. The company is merely migrating from desktop version indexing to mobile version indexing of the content.
Site managers and develops must take note of this development.
Create Mobile-Friendly Content
The websites that Google chooses to move to its mobile-first indexing will receive notification through the Google Search Console. Site owners will experience a “significantly increased crawl rate” from the Smartphone Googlebot. Additionally, Google will begin displaying the page’s mobile version in search results and cached pages.
At the beginning of the year, Google launched an advanced version of the Search Console. Performance was a crucial factor in the update, and now the company is devoting the same attention to mobile.
The broad overview here is that Google is encouraging webmasters to create mobile-friendly content. Even though mobile-first indexing does not impact page rankings at present, Google still assesses content in its index to understand how suitable it is for mobile interfaces.
In case you have an individual mobile site, you would want to consider the following two factors:
Ensure that the mobile version of your site has poignant and relevant content just as your desktop site does.
Your site’s mobile and desktop versions should contain the same structured data markup.
Currently, Google ranks sites that are “mobile-friendly” higher while ranking mobile interstitials negatively. July onwards, the company’s search engine will also place mobile pages that are faster in better positions to be found and seen.
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