Google’s mobile first index – what does it really mean?

Google’s mobile first index – what does it really mean?

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Even before Mobilegeddon happened, in 2015, Google was committed to recognising the importance of mobile optimisation in the web user experience. The effects of Mobilegeddon were not as life changing as some had predicted. What did happen was that sites began to be more properly recognised for being mobile friendly.

Now Google is taking mobile recognition one step further, with the introduction of the mobile first index. Although no definitive dates have been announced, this new approach to indexing is set to be rolled out over the coming months.

What is the mobile first index

Currently, Googlebotcrawls the web looking for new and updated pages, and the information is stored in an index. This is not going to change, but the place where the information is gathered from is changing. At present, information is collected from the desktop version of the site. When the mobile first index becomes a reality, information will be collected from the mobile version of the site.

Does this change what Google is looking for?

The short answer to this question is no. Google currently rewards sites that are mobile friendly, and this is not going to change. Being mobile friendly is actually pretty simple.

  • Pages can be read easily using a mobile device, with no scrolling or zooming necessary.
  • Every piece of content can be loaded effectively.
  • All buttons and links can be accessed easily, using touch technology.

All of these points should form part of any online marketing strategy because businesses need to have access to the large audience of mobile users that is out there. Some businesses have been wary of Google’s intentions, when it comes to mobile optimisation, but the factors that Google looks for are basic and the intention is to make things better for all web users. Google even makes it easy for website owners to check how mobile friendly their site is. None of this is going to change as a result of the mobile first index.

So, what does change?

If the mobile version of your website exactly mirrors your desktop site, you should not notice much difference. The problem for some businesses is that their mobile site is streamlined, to ensure that it loads quickly on a mobile device, and that all of the content is mobile friendly. If this applies to your business, you could find your search engine rankings being adversely affected, once the mobile first index is introduced. This is because it’s the information gathered from your mobile site that will be used to help determine your ranking. If the information available is substantially less than that on your desktop site, you could lose out.

You can see that what Google is looking for, in terms of a mobile friendly website, is not going to change. The difference is that information will be gathered from mobile sites first. You need to make sure that the content on the mobile version of your website is the same as that which is on the desktop version, without compromising user experience.