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Mobile-first indexing of Google – What does it mean and how to prepare?

It’s not new that more and more people are using their mobile phone for a variety of actions: listening to music, surfing the web, chatting with friends on social networks, downloading apps and more. This trend has forced businesses and other websites to adapt their content to mobile, because the way people use mobile phones is fundamentally different from using a standard desktop computer.

This trend affected both the largest giants in the world, the search engines were adapted to mobile phones in a more convenient and pleasant way, social networks were also adapted to mobile phones.

Google, for example, launched its “Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)” solution to create a different version of your site so that the download speed is significantly higher than a standard mobile phone version. Facebook also launched “Instant Articles“, which allows you to quickly upload your articles without going to your site.

By the end of 2016, Google announced that it will launch Mobile-first indexing, which will affect how websites are indexed and ranked in search results. At the end of March 2018 Google officially launched the new index and we will explain to you what it means for you and how you can prepare for it.

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What is Mobile-first indexing?

So far, Google has mostly used the desktop version of websites when evaluating the relevance of the page to the search result (query). In other words, Google’s crawling, indexing, and ranking systems used mostly a version of computers. Since most people use Google via mobile phones, the index will primarily use a mobile version of the page content.

In fact, mobile-first indexing means that Google will use a mobile version of your site to index and rank your site in search results. At the same time, Google will show the version that is best for users – both for both a PC and a mobile device.

Despite rumors without any proof, Google is not going to create a separate new index for mobile phones! There will not be 2 indexes but only one.

How it works?

First thing to know – Google is not going to hurt the owners of websites and therefore it moves each site separately to the new index by first Google will inform the webmaster through the search console that your site moved to the new indexing. Webmasters may see an increased crawling rate by Google’s mobile crawler (Googlebot).

Second, Google will display the mobile version in Google’s search results and cached pages. Sites that have not received this message from Google should not worry because the new indexing talks mainly about how Google collects information about your content rather than how it ranks it. Moreover, if you have a desktop version only, you’ll still be indexed – but you’ll probably suffer by lower your site’s ranking, especially on mobile devices.

What Google would prefer to show?

If you have different types of websites, you should know what Google would prefer to display in search results:

  • Desktop version only – nothing will change. The version for mobile phones is the same as for regular computers.
  • Responsive site – nothing will change. The version for mobile phones is the same as for regular computers.
  • Full AMP version – nothing will change. The version for mobile phones is the same as for regular computers.
  • Different Links on computer and on mobile – Google will prefer to index the version to a mobile device.
  • Dynamic version depending on the device – Google will prefer mobile-optimized content for indexing.
  • 2 AMP and non-AMP versions – Google will prefer to index the non-AMP standard mobile version.

What should be done?

Mobile-first indexing in the beginning helps Google understand and collect the information of your content rather than ranking. Because the index will be based on the mobile version, it is very important to build websites first and foremost for pleasant and convenient use for your users on mobile devices.

For those with a desktop version only – you must create a site optimized for mobile phones. For those with different versions, make sure that both versions (mobile and computer) have the same content including images, videos, and text.

As of July 2018, a slow-loading website may perform less well for both mobile and desktop computers.

It’s time to create a fast, mobile-optimized website.