Rollout of Mobile-First Index Begins

May 31, 2018 | Maria Smart, SEO Specialist

Websites have come a long way in their short history, from desktop only versions to separate desktop and mobile websites. And now we are in the world of responsive design, where one version of your website is all that exists, and it adjusts in size to display on any device your website visitor uses. You may be asking yourself “Why does it matter if I have two separate websites or a desktop only version?” here are a number of reasons, some of which we will explore in more detail; however, chief among them is Google’s Mobile-First Index that has recently rolled out.

What Does Mobile-First Indexing Mean?

Google's Mobile-First Index, Responsive vs UnresponsiveIn the simplest terms, mobile-first indexing means that Google bots will now use the mobile version of content on your website for indexing and ranking. Previously, the index primarily used the desktop version of a website to evaluate pages. Because of the rise in use of mobile devices over desktop, Google is paying more attention to the mobile version of the site. Note that the mobile-first index is not a separate index, it is the same main index now prioritizing the mobile version of websites over desktop.

This is a game changer, especially for those with a poor mobile presence. If mobile users are having poor experiences with your website, whether it is due to the functionality of the site or that your site has not provided them the information that they are seeking, search bots will take these factors into consideration in ranking your website. The more functional and informative websites that meets guests needs will rise to the top. This is why having one mobile-friendly version of your website, a responsive website, is preferred and best practice nowadays.

Mobile experience and engagement are just a few of the many factors that search bots take into consideration when algorithmically ranking websites in search engine results. Websites without a mobile-friendly experience can still be included in the index and search results, however, the lack of mobile-friendliness will have negative impacts and it will be harder to maintain good rankings.

What does this mean for your website? What changes can you expect?

First, know that this roll out is coming slow and steady. Google is only rolling this out to websites that are “‘ready’ enough for this change to have a minimal impact.” So, you may already be seeing impacts from this; however, if your websites desktop and mobile versions are nearly identical, you are less likely to see any impacts from this change.

Second, you’ll start to see the Smartphone Googlebot hitting your website more often. And you may start to see snippets in search results that are now generated by your mobile content. Expect that most things should be business as usual, until Google makes another update!

Are you behind the eight ball?

Don’t fret!, It is more than likely that your website is already in good shape for this change.. Most websites are responsively designed and therefore tend to show the same content on both mobile and desktop. However, if you are unsure, here is how to get started making that determination.

How to Check if Your Website is Responsive

Start by navigating to your website on your mobile device or by resizing your desktop browser window. If the website fits the screen no matter the size then the website is responsive. If you need to pinch and zoom or readjust the page in any way to read the content, this could be hurting your business

Next Steps

Whether you have a separate mobile website or your current responsive design has poor usability and content layout, Blizzard can help! We create websites on WordPress, which provides responsive, mobile-first website solutions that are extremely user-friendly and incorporate SEO & SEM best practices. Contact Blizzard today to see if your website is ready for Google’s Mobile-First indexing.