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What do we Know About the Google Mobile First Index?

Google are in the process of rolling out a new mobile first index.  Meaning that google will generate and rank search listings based on the mobile version of content. This even applies to searches shown  for users on desktops. We have discussed the importance of  having a mobile friendly site previously, and we look at what we know about the new system will work.

Why is this happening?

Statistics show that users are performing more and more searches via mobile devices; therefore Google wants its indexing and search results to be representative of their users – people who search via mobile.

Essentially, google is now beginning to use the mobile version of the web as the primary search engine index. A search engine index is a collection of pages and documents discovered by google crawling web links. Previous indexes have happened by being crawled from a desktop; whereas now indexes are crawled from the perspective of a mobile browser.

Do you need to worry about Google Mobile First Index?

There are a number of people who could see these changes as potentially worrying. Those without a mobile site and those with a site where the content on the mobile version is different to that of the desktop version.

For those with no mobile site, then google will crawl the desktop version instead. However having a mobile site is seen as preferable. Those with a mobile site need to ensure it is similar enough to the desktop version so that it can be crawled, indexed and ranked as well as it would be if it were the desktop site being crawled.

If you have less content in your mobile site than your desktop site then this is somewhere you need to look to improve potentially. The best solution is having a responsive site, so that the content on a page is the same across platforms, rather than having a stripped down version with thinner content.

Will Google Mobile First Index change rankings in a big way?

Several prominent google employees (Gary Illyes and Paul Haahr) have stated that overall rankings shouldn’t see too much of a dramatic shift. The end goal of this roll out is to have little to no change on the indexing of sites. Google are also keen to emphasise that it is not a mobile friendly ranking boost. However they have previously stated that sites which are not mobile friendly will not rank as well, and as such it is important to do what you can to make the most of your site.

The biggest change, as mentioned before is the way that the site is indexed. Focusing on things like mobile page speed, and the way in which things such as titles (h1 tags etc) work across both types of searches will be important. Ensuring that you have a well optimised site for search will help in this instance.

When will this happen?

Google Mobile First Index is already being tested for some users. Currently most people get results based on desktop searches,  it is still in testing and will be gradually rolled out over a period of months depending on whether things go well or not.

If you want to know whether Google sees your mobile pages, then go to the search console and use the fetch and render tool, choose mobile:smartphone user-agent and see what the preview produces.

If you want to know more about the way in which the Google Mobile First Index could have an impact on you, then contact Zelst today. We can assess your site and give you advice on how you can rank well with the use of good SEO practices, well thought out content and all other forms of digital marketing.