With 2018 fast approaching, our Director of SEO & Content Justin McIntyre is here to help us brush up on Google’s impending mobile-first index.
What’s the mobile-first index?
ICYMI: Mobile searches outpaced desktop searches for the first time in 2015—and they’ve only gone up since then. Because most searchers are on their phones, search engines have cranked up their emphasis on ensuring a high-quality mobile experience.
These efforts include enhanced site speed optimization tools, the mobile algorithm update (remember Mobilegeddon?), and industry-wide best practices on user engagement. In 2016, Google announced the rollout of a mobile-first index—which will likely launch in 2018. Read up on my overview of the mobile-first index.
The “conventional” index means that Google crawls, indexes, and ranks the desktop version of a website. These desktop versions likely have different content, images, styling, and overall user experiences than their mobile counterparts.
Given search trends and the upswing in mobile searches, Google decided to move to a mobile-first index to assess the mobile content that most searchers interact with.
What can we do now?
While the big update hasn’t happened yet, Google is slowly rolling the mobile-first index with the intent of fully deploying once it has proven to improve user experience. In the meantime, Google has outlined a few recommendations for webmasters.
-If possible, utilize a responsive website. This is the most seamless transition between desktop and mobile experience; thus, the effect of the mobile-first index should be minimal.
-If your site isn’t responsive, review the website for any substantial differences between mobile and desktop content. These differences might include content, internal linking, meta data, images, structured data, and site speed.
-Leverage the “Fetch as Google” and “robots.txt tester” tools in Google Search Console to examine how Google may view your site on a mobile device.
-There is no need to alter canonical tagging if a webmaster is operating an “m.” website.
Make sure taking care of your website is on your list of 2018 resolutions. Any mobile-first questions? Tweet us @Perfect_Search.