In recent years, with people almost exclusively using their mobile phones to access the web, mobile web traffic has reached a new horizon. With mobiles taking over desktops in global internet usage, Google Search started shifting its focus to mobile devices.
First, in 2015, with the mobile-friendly algorithm update and again in 2016, with mobile crawling and indexing, Google demonstrated not only a huge internal Infrastructural change but a major change for the public web.
In October 2023, Google announced the completion of mobile-first indexing, marking the end of an eight-year journey of innovation. But what now? How will mobile-first indexing affect SEO? Websites that aren’t optimized for mobile? Search Console? Find the answers to all your questions below!
How Will Mobile-First Indexing Affect SEO?
The completion of mobile-first indexing means that Google’s web crawler prioritizes the mobile version of a website’s content over its desktop counterpart.
Google’s original desktop-first indexing crawled pages from a website with its desktop and mobile user agent or crawlers. It would then get the page information from the desktop version’s content and display it in SERPs if it was considered relevant to the user’s query.
However, with mobile-first indexing, Google now prioritizes the mobile version of a website when indexing content instead of the desktop version. This change will significantly impact SEO, including how Google crawls, indexes, and (fingers crossed) ranks your site.
What Does Mobile-First Indexing Mean for Websites That Aren’t Optimized for Mobile?
Currently, there won’t be any major consequences for websites that aren’t optimized for mobile, as Google will continue to use the legacy desktop Googlebot crawler for these websites for the time being. However, if your site isn’t optimized for excellent mobile user experience and is crawled, it can affect its performance in the SERPs or even prevent it from appearing altogether.
Google will re-evaluate the list of websites that haven’t been optimized for mobile a few times a year. Google hopes to save significant resources for itself as well as site owners by reducing crawling with legacy desktop Googlebot as much as possible.
How Will Search Console Change Because of Mobile-First Indexing?
Since the shift to mobile-first indexing is complete, Google will turn off the indexing crawler information on the settings page in the Search Console. As all websites that work on mobile devices are now being primarily crawled with the mobile crawler, this move won’t affect SEO as the indexing crawler information is no longer relevant. You can see how your site is currently being crawled in the crawl stats report.
Google’s Mobile-First Indexing Best Practices
With the transition to mobile-first indexing, Google also provides a comprehensive list of best practices you can implement to create the best user experience. Most of this information, however, has been around for a while.
- Ensure the error page status is the same on the mobile and desktop sites.
- Make sure the desktop pages have equivalent mobile pages.
- Avoid fragment URLs in the mobile site.
- Make sure the mobile site can handle an increased crawl rate.
- Verify both the mobile and desktop sites in Google’s Search Console.
- Check hreflang links on separate mobile URLs.
- Make sure the robot.txt directives are the same on the mobile and desktop sites.
The completion of mobile-first indexing marks a significant milestone in the evolution of Google’s search engine. With mobile devices taking over desktops in global internet usage, Google shifted its focus to mobile-first indexing in 2015, finally completing the transition after eight years.
It is safe to assume that we can expect some significant changes to the way Google crawls and indexes websites in the near future. If you need a professional to help you optimize your website according to Google’s mobile-first indexing, Contact Markethix right away. Our many years of experience with web design and SEO, as well as refining our approach according to Google’s updates, has enabled us to become one of the top-rated web design and SEO agencies in Florida.