Google Mobile-first indexing

Google has begun testing its mobile-first index, which will primarily look at the mobile version of your website for its ranking signals and fall back on the desktop version when there is no mobile version.

Today, most people are searching using a mobile device. However, Google ranking systems still typically look at the desktop version of a page’s content to evaluate its relevance to the user. This can cause issues when the mobile page has less content than the desktop page because our algorithms are not evaluating the actual page that is seen by a mobile searcher.

With this change, Google will primarily index mobile content and use that to decide how to rank its results, regardless of whether you’re on desktop or mobile. There will no longer be any type of “mobile-friendly” adjustment done just for mobile users. This is why Google recommends you go with a responsive approach — the content is the same on a page-by-page basis from your desktop to your mobile site.

Expandable content makes sense on mobile and not so much on desktop. On a desktop sites, content hidden in tabs, accordions, expandable boxes and other methods would not be weighted as high. But when it comes to mobile, Google’s Gary Illyes said, content like this will be given full weight if done for user experience purposes.

Google has ranked your mobile site based on many signals from your desktop site. That is going to flip, and Google will rank your mobile and desktop sites based on signals they get from crawling your site from a mobile view.

How can you prepare?

  • Build a responsive web site
  • Make sure to serve structured markup for both the desktop and mobile version
  • Use the robots.txt testing tool to verify that your mobile version is accessible to Googlebot
  • Optimize loading speed for your mobile web site
  • Be sure that content on desktop and mobile sites is equal