What Is Mobile First Indexing And How Will It Affect Your SEO Ranking

What Is Mobile-First Indexing And How Will It Affect Your SEO Ranking

Google has shifted gears yet again by doing their very best to keep business owners on their toes. If you thought you’d mastered SEO practices, think again. Now that Google is implementing mobile-first indexing across the board, business owners who want to maintain their rankings in search results will need to revamp their websites in the near future.

These days, SEO is a necessity for all websites. Whether you run a blog or an online business, you’re already aware of the effort it takes to keep up with SEO trends. And if you’re not, you will be by the time Google gets done with your website. 

It may take a while, but learn what changes may need to be made on your website after mobile-first indexing takes over.

What is Mobile-First Indexing?

Mobile-first indexing describes the recent changes made to the Google index system. Just like its title indicates, it’s the practice in which the mobile version of a website is considered first by the Google index ranking system. While historically, Google used the desktop version of a website primarily to rank a page, it now uses the mobile site. As more web users are utilizing their smartphones and devices to browse the web, creating and maintaining a mobile-friendly website has never been more important.

As of July 1, 2019, Google has enacted mobile-first indexing as a default on all new or previously unknown websites. It’s important to know that this doesn’t mean Google will only be indexing mobile sites. If only a desktop site is available, then it will be used to rank and index the website. However, these websites will likely rank lower than they would if they had an accessible mobile version. 

For pre-existing websites, Google will continue to index them as they did in the past. Google considers several things, including proper SEO practices and content consistency across both the desktop and mobile versions of a website. 

Are All Websites Going To Switch To Mobile-First Indexing?

Yes! Eventually, Google plans to switch entirely to mobile-first indexing. This means they will be ranking pages based only on the mobile version of every website. Since this process is expected to take several years, however, there’s no need to make any changes right away. If your websites are all mobile-friendly, you likely won’t have to make any changes at all.

How will mobile first indexing affect my seo ranking Contentwriters

How Will This Affect My SEO Ranking?
All website owners need to understand how Google’s mobile-first indexing will impact their business. If you don’t have a mobile-friendly version of your site, it can be detrimental to your ranking and, ultimately, your income. 

The following site types will not be affected by mobile-first indexing and will require no changes to be included in Google’s index:

A desktop website without a mobile-friendly version
A responsive website that adjusts based on the device being used to browse
Web pages created in AMP HTML
However, if your website meets any of the following criteria then a switch to mobile-friendly indexing may negatively affect your SEO ranking:

An m-dot site that gives the same webpage separate URLs for its mobile-friendly and desktop content
A dynamic serving website that delivers content to readers based on what device they’re using
A website with both AMP and non-AMP versions of a page

What Steps Will I Need To Take?

As Google works overtime to implement mobile-first indexing across all websites, it’s important to take the appropriate steps towards making sure your mobile website will be ranked properly. Even though they will continue to index desktop websites, they won’t rank as well if they aren’t mobile-friendly. Here are some steps to consider taking:

1. Don’t Panic

The transition is going to take time, so if you don’t have your mobile website where you want it just yet, don’t panic. Google will notify you when your website has transitioned over to mobile-first indexing. So, now is a good time to begin the process of designing the changes to your mobile site, or begin creating one.

2. Check If Your Website Is Mobile-Friendly

Have no idea if your website is mobile-friendly? Test your website(s) using Google’s mobile-friendly test. It’s simple, fast, and lets you know if you need to update your website in just seconds. 

3. Update Your Content So That It’s Consistent

If the desktop and mobile-friendly versions of your website are different, that will become a major problem once mobile-first indexing is implemented. Especially if your mobile website is short on content as that will impact your ranking. Update your mobile website so that text, videos, and images are consistent across both versions. 

4. Write Using Mobile-Friendly Techniques

When transferring content onto your mobile website or creating new posts, it’s important to start implementing mobile-friendly writing techniques. This means shorter sentences and compact paragraphs. Make sure the font used on your mobile website is clear and large enough to read on small devices. 

5. Update Any Structured Data

If your website uses any structured data, then it should be consistent across both the desktop and mobile versions of your site. If the structured data includes any URLs then it should be changed to a mobile-friendly URL when implemented on the mobile version of your website. 

6. Keep Metadata Consistent

In addition to the content on both versions of your website being consistent, so should the metadata. They don’t need to be identical as you may want to optimize the metadata for your mobile website by using fewer characters. Your metadata includes page titles, keywords, and descriptions. Social metadata such as OpenGraph tags and Twitter cards should also be included on both versions of your website.

7. Consider Switching Over To A Responsive Design

Converting your website over to a responsive design is the best way to ensure your website isn’t affected by mobile-first indexing. It automatically presents a mobile version of your website that is both up to Google’s standards and easy for readers to navigate. Doing this also eliminates having two versions of your website. Having a responsive design keeps all of your website’s content and media consistent when converting it to a mobile-friendly version. 

8. Check Your Server Capacity

Having the mobile version of your website on a separate server was never a problem in the past, however, mobile-first indexing will significantly increase traffic to your site. Make sure your server can handle the traffic that is usually directed towards the desktop version of your website. You may need to increase your server size or switch hosts to accommodate this increase in traffic. 

9. Redirect Mobile URL Hreflang Annotations

If you have a multilingual website that uses rel=hreflang for internationalization, you will need to redirect your mobile URLs’ hreflang annotations. They should point to all mobile versions of the country or language variants you use. Your desktop URLs’ hreflang annotations can remain the same as long as they point to the desktop version of your website. 

10. Update Links To Sitemaps

Make sure that any links to XML and media sitemaps are available and functioning on your mobile website. The same goes for robot directives and privacy policy pages. 

11. Verify Your Mobile Site

Add and verify the mobile version of your website with Google Search Console. While your website will be indexed regardless of whether or not you do this, verifying it will give you insights into your ranking. Additionally, you will receive recommendations on how to optimize your website to increase traffic.  

12. Update App Indexation

If your desktop website is set up with app indexation, which brings those who click on your website in Google search results directly to your app, you may need to update it. Check that you’ve verified the mobile version of your website as well since this is what will appear in Google searches after mobile-first indexing is implemented on your site. 

13. Avoid Using Flash

Content that runs on Flash isn’t compatible with mobile devices. For this reason, it’s important to avoid using Flash and find more mobile-friendly options to produce the same effect. 

Mobile First Indexing FAQs ContentWriters

Common Questions About Mobile-First Indexing
Do you still have questions about what mobile-first indexing means? We’ve got you covered! Here are the answers to some of the most common questions about how this will affect their websites. 

Will Only My Mobile Site Be Used To Determine My Site Rankings?
Not quite. Mobile-first indexing means that the mobile version of your website will be considered first when it’s being ranked. If you don’t have a mobile website, then the desktop version will be considered first instead. Google may also consider your desktop website over your mobile website if more backlinks and other rankings information are more available. However, without a mobile-friendly option, your ranking will likely be lower. 

Will Mobile-First Indexing Treat Responsive Websites And Separate Mobile Sites Differently?
Maybe. The biggest difference between the two is how much work will need to be done to prepare for the switch. While responsive websites require no work, having a separate mobile website can require extensive changes to rank. As long as a separate mobile website is properly updated, mobile-first indexing will treat it the same as any responsive website. 

Is Mobile-First Indexing Going To Boost My Rankings?
If you have a mobile-friendly website, this might boost your ranking. Mobile-first indexing displays results based on how each website is ranked. A special mobile-friendly ranking boost is then applied, offering mobile-friendly websites a higher ranking and, ultimately, more views.

5 Useful Mobile-First Indexing Tools

  1. Rich Results Test: Allows you to make sure your structured data implementation is mobile-friendly.
  2. Masterful Mobile Web: Google’s resource page offers insight on how to improve mobile experiences. 
  3. The Google Cache: Checks what links are missing from the mobile version of your website that are on your desktop version.
  4. Mobile-First Index Checker: Quickly learn if your website is ready for mobile-first indexing or if changes need to be made. 
  5. Think With Google: Enter your domain to receive a report on your website’s load speed and insights into how it can be improved. 

Get Your Websites Ready For Mobile-First Indexing

This may all seem overwhelming, and that’s because it is. However, taking these steps are necessary if you want to maintain your site’s ranking. If you can’t make these updates yourself, then consider hiring a pro like contentwriters.com. Don’t risk getting dropped in your ranking by Google’s new indexing and ranking system!

Kristen B.

Rose Burke is a professional writer who works with clients across a variety of industries including beauty, HVAC, automotive, and more to perfect their web and marketing content. She also enjoys writing entertainment and creative pieces on celebrities, politics, women's issues, and other trending topics. Her work has been published in several online and print magazines including The Independent, Social News Daily, The Conium Review, The Southampton Review, The Richest, CINEMABLEND, The Bolde, Nicki Swift, The List, and Grunge.

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