As mobile usage continues to surge it is changing the way Google is indexing websites and ranking search engine results. They are shifting focus to put mobile devices in the spotlight, which could have a big effect on your site’s visibility. Read on to find out more about mobile first indexing and what you need to do next.
What is mobile first indexing?
Google searches made on mobile devices has gradually become the dominant source of enquiries ahead of desktops searches, something which Google has anticipated for the past few years.
As a result, from March 2021 Google are prioritising the indexing of websites that are mobile optimised, where previously desktops were indexed first. This means if your website is not optimised for use on mobile devices, it could have a negative impact on your rankings.
It is also important to note that there is only one index, and not a separate one for both mobile and desktop and you cannot opt out of inclusion.
Check your site is on mobile first indexing
The easiest way to check if you are on mobile first indexing is to run an URL Inspection for a single page on Google’s Search Console (simply type in https://www.test.com into the box at the bottom). If you see something like “Googlebot Smartphone” in the Crawled As section then your site is already mobile-first.
Run a simple test to see if you’re mobile ready
Use Google’s mobile-friendly test tool to see if your site is already mobile ready. Copy and paste the URL of a single web page and it will state if it is mobile friendly or if any issues need to fixed. It will let you know what needs to be done so you can get your site up to speed.
Ensure both sites offer the same customer experience
Google advise that customers have access to the same experience on both desktop and mobile sites, with a particular emphasis placed on content. The mobile site should have a similar amount of content as the desktop version, otherwise it could lead to some traffic loss once mobile first indexing begins.
Know the difference between usability and mobile first indexing
Mobile first indexing is not the same as usability, with the former ensuring the site is primed for optimal search results and latter focus on customer experience.
Google will still index a mobile-ready site regardless of how useable it is for the customer. So while rankings are important, equally, so is the way your customers are able to use the site.
What if I don’t have a mobile version of my site?
Businesses without a mobile site are still likely to be indexed, although compared to mobile optimised sites they may not fare as well. This means you could see a drop in search result rankings and visitor numbers as a result.
To ensure your website is mobile ready, get in touch to find out more about our free mobile site review that delivers a comprehensive 10-step guide on what you need to do next.