On December 19, 2018, Google announced that over half of the pages shown in search results worldwide are powered by mobile-first indexing. That means that it is more likely that the pages you visit from a Google search query are based on how Google crawled and indexed content on the mobile version of that page.
What is mobile-first indexing? | Internet Marketing Toronto
Mobile-first indexing is just what it sounds like. It simply means that the mobile version of any given website is the first thing that Google includes in their index and the baseline for how it creates rankings.
Mobile-first indexing is not the same as mobile-only indexing, and the two terms should not be confused. In mobile-first indexing: If a site is not mobile friendly, the desktop site can still be used in the indexing. But the lack of a mobile-friendly experience can greatly impact the rankings of that site. A website with a better mobile experience would potentially receive a rankings boost even if the search is done through a desktop computer. Mobile-only indexing, on the other hand, means that only mobile versions of the website are being indexed and displayed on SERPs.
How to Tell if a Website is Mobile Friendly? | Internet Marketing GTA
Before moving any website on the World Wide Web to mobile-first indexing, Google runs tests to see if it is ready to be moved. It is only when the website has passed the tests that it is moved to mobile-first indexing.
In their blog post dated December 12, 2018, Google pointed out a few ways that webmasters could check if their website has been indexed for mobile-first. First, Google will notify the site owner through a message in Search Console when their website has been moved over. Second, you are able to confirm the move by checking your server logs. If your website has been moved, the majority of the requests will be coming from Googlebot Smartphone. Using URL inspection tool is the easiest method for checking for mobile-first indexing. The tool allows you to check how a URL from your site was last crawled and indexed. Google has made it very easy for you to comply with its new algorithm change.
Google also warned us about being careful with missing structured data on mobile pages and missing alt-text for images on mobile pages.
Why Does It Matter? | Digital Marketing Toronto
Since over half of the search results are shown through mobile-first, having a mobile friendly website is no longer optional. You will not get optimal rankings for your website if it does not provide the best experience for users. Google will opt for pages that are better optimized to be shown on mobile devices.
Keep these three golden rules in mind when assessing the functionality of your website. First, you will want to make sure that your website’s pages have structured data to help Google index proper information in search results. Second, you will want to check that all pages are mobile friendly and load quickly on mobile devices. Third, when uploading images to your website you will want to ensure that each of them has Alt texts. Alt texts help Google bots understand the context of the images. If you are diligent to ensure that the pages on your website run, load, and look good on mobile devices, then you are more likely to be on the first page of Google search results thanks to the mobile-first indexing procedure. This will ultimately help get you more website traffic as well as potential leads.
Desktop vs. Mobile Rankings
Here’s an old-school YouTube video featuring Matt Cutts that goes into this depth about the differences between desktop and mobile rankings.
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Resource: Preparing for Mobile-First Indexing