The importance of mobile in SEO isn’t exactly new. Since 2016’s Mobilegeddon arrived, Google’s motivations have been clear: mobile isn’t avoidable when it comes to ranking. Sites that are still resisting have been ranking lower in the SERPs on mobile devices for a while now, but mobile-first indexing threatens to change the game once more, taking the importance of mobile to the desktop space. So, what is mobile-first indexing and why do you need to know about it?
What Is Mobile-First Indexing?
Mobile-first indexing is a switch in the way Google’s crawlers cruise the web. Historically, your desktop site has been your primary platform, and it’s the version Google indexes first. However, with mobile-first indexing, your mobile site essentially becomes your primary website and is the version that Google will look for before visiting and indexing your desktop pages.
Mobilegeddon, as most website owners now know, introduced a new form of ranking in which dedicated mobile sites and responsive websites ranked higher in searches on mobile devices than desktop-only websites. However, mobile-first indexing takes this a step further; with this shift, the presence of a website that’s compatible with mobile devices will affect ranking across all platforms, not just mobile options.
This switch really highlights the evolution of mobile websites. When the idea of mobile pages first debuted, it wasn’t uncommon for mobile versions of sites to be limited on content with a desktop page providing a better experience. Today, things are different. Mobile websites are just as dynamic and robust as desktop sites, offering the same content in a vaguely different format. And, as Google’s changes demonstrate, mobile sites are now intended to be a first point of contact, not a secondary afterthought.
How to Adapt to Mobile First
If Google is changing the way sites are indexed, what does that mean for you? Well, that depends on the caliber of your current mobile page. In order to ensure your spot in the SERPs doesn’t suffer, it’s important to make sure your mobile site – or your desktop site, if you went the responsive route, although Google says those with responsive sites should be largely unaffected – is up to par. If you have a mobile site, take time to verify that:
- The content on your mobile page is high quality, engaging, and adds value to readers. This is also true for video content and images.
- The structured data markup you’re using matches what’s on your desktop site. Ensure all URLs point to the mobile versions of pages.
- Metadata is equivalent on both versions of your page, including both titles and descriptions
- Social metadata, like OpenGraph tags and Twitter cards, are in use and consistent on your mobile site
- All XML and media sitemaps are accessible from the mobile version of your site, including robots directives and trust signals
- The server you use has the ability to handle an increased crawl rate
- Your search console verification includes your mobile site address
This may sound like a lot to add to your to-do list, but most companies with updated mobile sites will have already handled these tasks during the regular course of business. If you’re not sure where to start, focus on making sure your mobile site is as fully-fleshed as your desktop version.
The ins and outs of Google’s changes can be a lot to follow, but doing so is to your benefit. With the inception of mobile-first indexing, Google is only continuing to emphasize how much mobile matters: a message site owners should certainly heed. If you’re not sure about the performance of your mobile site, RivalMind is happy to help. Get in touch today to make sure you’re ready for the mobile-first changes to come.