Mobile-First Indexing in 2019: What is it and Why Should I Care?
Mobile-First Indexing is another big change in the already constantly-shifting field of SEO.
Let’s admit though, there’s so much going on with SEO at any given time, it’s hard to keep up with.
Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t know what Mobile-First Indexing is yet, or why it’s important.
Thankfully, it’s actually not a difficult concept to grasp.
In fact, if you keep reading, you’ll learn exactly what Mobile-First Indexing is, whether there’s immediate action you need to take to protect your website and your business, and how you can use it to your advantage in 2019, and beyond.
However, let’s keep first first things, first. Let’s quickly review what Indexing means in the context of SEO.
Indexing: What is it, and why is it different than Mobile-first Indexing?
Indexing refers to the way search engines add your webpages to the index they get their search results from.
If your site is indexed, it means it has the potential to show up for one or more Keyword Searches on a given search engine.
Most people are primarily concerned with Google’s index, Google is the biggest search engine and basically makes the rules. Google is essentially Godfather of Internet Search.
What is Mobile-First Indexing?
While it sounds obvious, Mobile-First Indexing means that google will now make ranking decisions based on the mobile version of your site first. What’s surprising is that Google intends to hold this policy for both mobile and desktop searches.
Let’s make it even simpler to understand. This chart is from Serped and we loved it so much we thought we’d share.
Then, Before the recent change, Google would crawl your desktop site, and determine your rankings for both the mobile and desktop based on that. If you had a mobile version, it’d simply boost your rankings a bit more.
Now, After the change, Google will now crawl your mobile site first, determine rankings for mobile and desktop versions just like it did before (but based on the mobile version this time). Then, if you have no mobile version (which would mean no points for you, according to Google) then it’ll crawl your desktop site instead.
Google’s reasoning is that prior to the change, their search results were based on the content found on the desktop version page. This caused issues for mobile users sometimes when the mobile version of the site doesn’t contain the same helpful content that would have been present on the desktop site.
Mobile-First Indexing in 2018 and Prior
There have long been indications that Google has prioritized mobile search results. Most Google searches are now performed on mobile devices, and it’s actually been that way for a while.
If that’s the case, then why wouldn’t Google prioritize the mobile experience?
After all, their business model is based on happy consumers, which depends on a positive user experience. If your website gives Google’s customers a bad experience, don’t you think Google’s going to notice and give you a smack on the wrist?
What Do I Need to Do to Be Ready for Mobile-First Indexing?
However, keep the following in mind:
Your Mobile Site is essentially Your Site now, period.
Consider your Mobile and Desktop versions equivalent – try to make everything accessible on Desktop just as accessible on Mobile.
In other words, the content on your Mobile Site must be equal to the content on your Desktop Site.
Mind Your Structured Data
Structured Data, AKA Schema Markup – is as up to scratch on Mobile as it is on Desktop.
Test your Structured Data with Google’s Tool
Verify You’re the Owner of Your Mobile Site in Google Search Console
Hopefully you’ve already been into Google Search Console to verify your ownership. If so, verify you’re the owner of your mobile site. If not, go do both as soon as you can – if you’re not in Google Search console, your site is most likely not showing up in Google to begin with.
Spruce Up Mobile Site Load Times
Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool to find out how your mobile site is doing in terms of Page Load Times. Long loading times are a real boon to good SEO, and the mobile version of a site is usually slower than the desktop version to start out with.
Mobile page speed is more important than ever before as Google also recently announced they’ll now consider mobile load times when ranking.
Mobile-First Indexing isn’t going to take the world by storm overnight. Google’s treating it as an experiment for now, as it’ll take time to get it where it needs to be.
However, SEO changes quickly. Start paying attention now to how Mobile-First indexing could affect your website, and therefore, your business. Don’t risk regretting it if you come realize how fast time swept you by without even checking to see if your site is ready for the oncoming changes.