Everything You Need To Know About Google’s Mobile-First Index

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If you have been keeping up to date with Google algorithms, you will have heard about the mobile-first index.  This index means that Google will be creating a search ranking listing based on the mobile version of a website even for users using a desktop.  There is a lot of information that you should know to determine how this will work and affect your online business.

What Is Changing?

As there are more and more people completing Google searches on mobile devices, the search engine wants to create an index and results that represent their users.  Google has already started to use the mobile version of the web as their primary search engine index.  What is changing with this new index is the way that Google crawls the web from a mobile browser view.

What Happens If You Do Not Have A Mobile Website?

If you do not have a mobile version of your website, Google has said that you do not have to worry.  While Google does want you to have a mobile site, it will still crawl your desktop site instead.  Google has stated that they will crawl the desktop site even when they are only using a mobile user agent to view it.

If you do have a mobile website, you will need to ensure that all of the content and links are similar to the desktop version.  This will ensure that Google can read the content and rank your site correctly and as well as it did for the desktop site. Also be sure the content passes the Google Mobile Friendly Tool.

Should You Be Worried If Your Mobile Site Has Less Content?

If you have a mobile website that has less content than your desktop site, you might need to be a little worried.  As Google will be looking at the mobile version of your website, it is likely that it will only see the page with less content.  This is one of the reasons why Google suggests that you have a responsive website which changes your desktop website t suit the device viewing it.

When you have a responsive website, the content will stay the same for the desktop and mobile versions.  While this is something that you can do with other mobile implementations, there is more room for error.

How Will This Affect Expandable Content On Mobile?

When it comes to desktop sites, Google has states that any content which is hidden in accordions, tabs or other expandable boxes will not be weighted as high.  However, when it comes to mobile websites, Google has stated that the content will be given full weight as long as it was done for user experience.  The idea behind this change in view is that expandable content makes more sense for mobile websites when compared to desktop websites.

Will This Greatly Change The Google Rankings?

According to Paul Haahr and Gary Illyes from Google, this mobile-first index should not change the overall rankings.  They have stated that they are looking to have a minimal change to rankings with this.  Of course, it is still very early, and there is no way of telling if this will happen in practice.  However, it appears that the goal is to not change the current rankings too much with this change.

How Is The SEO Campaign Affected?

 As stated, an SEO campaign should remain unaffected. When you begin an SEO campaign by a local company, they will most likely be focused on producing high-quality backlinks. It’s estimated that this will still remain true in the mobile-first index.

When Will This Be Fully Rolled Out?

With any update to Google, you will want to know when it will be fully rolled out.  Google has stated that testing of the mobile-first index has begun with some users.  However, it does appear that the full roll out is still months away.  Google has not yet released any information about a date for the rollout because it is still in the testing phase.  If the testing does not go according to plan, it is likely that the roll out will be delayed.

How Can You Tell If Google Sees Your Mobile Pages?

If you want to determine whether or not Google is viewing your mobile pages, the best option to use is the Fetch and Render tool in the Google Search Console.  You will want to specify the mobile: smartphone user agent for this task and look at the preview after the task has been completed.  The render that Google shows will be what the search engine sees and indexes.  If you find that content is missing from the results, you will need to look at different ways to remedy this as it could impact your rankings.

There is a lot of information that you need to know about the new Google mobile-first index.  It is important to note that this change is not aimed at making any drastic adjustments to the current overall rankings.  You also do not have to have a mobile version of your website, but it is recommended that you use a responsive theme.

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