Google announces in their blog, that starting July 1st, every new website (not already indexed or crawled) will be subjected to Mobile-First Indexing.
So, this one is especially important for anyone new to SEO or anyone planning to launch their websites soon.
But do not be mistaken, this news is also very important for anyone with existing ranked websites that are not properly optimized for mobile. Time is ticking and mobile will only become more dominant for search engines and ranks as time goes by. Take notes!
A brief explanation – what is Mobile-First Indexing
In a nutshell – placing more importance on the mobile version of a website. While many make a desktop version website which will also be mobile-friendly, in mobile-first design, you design a website for mobile right from the get-go.
Since more than half of all Google searches are done via mobile, and more than half of all users access the internet through their mobile devices (a figure that just keeps growing). Being accessible to mobile users and providing a favorable user experience has become a big subject in recent years.
And here’s an interesting stat to top it all: 77% of mobile searches are done from home or work, where a desktop is often present:
Google builds a unique SERP for mobile devices ever since smartphones and tablets became the standard. In 2019 search results on mobile will be different 100% of the time for the exact same search term.
Simply speaking, websites that are mobile-friendly will be better ranked on Google’s mobile search results. Being highly ranked on mobile is also connected to being well ranked overall, since the ranking value will rise. You will get more organic traffic, better CTR, lesser bounce rates and all of these are significant general ranking factors that also impact desktop searches.
If you’ve been following our blog, we’ve been advocating getting your websites to be mobile-friendly, even before Mobile-First Indexing became official and widely discussed on SEO communities.
What is mobile-friendly according to Google
Some of Google’s official guidelines at keeping websites mobile friendly include:
- Website needs to load fast. More than 3 seconds and bounce rates skyrocket. Google officially supports the AMP guidelines
- Content needs to be readable and not cluttered – visible text with no zooming required, and clickable items not clustered too close together.
- Responsive web design – the content and graphics adjust to the screen size. This is the most sensible method because every screen is different. Adjusting to the screen size is the most flexible and future-proofed approach.
- Same content as the desktop site but adapted to mobile. This includes not just the actual content and text, but the structured data and metadata as well.
Note that all of this is backed by research and countless case studies on how mobile friendliness impacts bounce rates and user experience. Again: low bounce rates=better ranking chances.
A short mobile-first indexing update history
2014, unknown starting point – Mobile-first indexing testing by some estimates started as early as 2014.
Nov 4th, 2016 – Google official announces for the first time testing mobile-first indexing. Our coverage:
Dec 18th, 2017 – Rolling out mobile-first for sites that are deemed ‘ready’.
Dec 19th, 2018 – Google starts notifying webmasters via Search Console when website has been moved to Mobile-First indexing.
March 26th, 2018 – Google rolling out Mobile-First Indexing further.
July 1st, 2019 – Upcoming update – all new websites will be effected.
Check out our full Google update timeline that included all the other major updates:
|Google Update Timeline 2011-2019|
We’ve been monitoring Google since 2012 and we know almost for a fact that mobile-first indexing started taking effect much earlier than any official acknowledgment. We’ve been one of the first tools on the market that offered their users distinct mobile rank tracking before all the hoopla even started.
Why is this important? Because of the next very important point, you need to drill into your SEO psyche:
The next ranking layers which will be big in the future and no one talks about
So here are two unique indexing types which Google effectively employs but doesn’t yet acknowledge:
Mobile indexing also takes into account what OS the user is searching from. Apple users will see different search results than Android users, as observed by our SERP tracker:
Mobile device type indexing
Other than OS, device type also matters – Users on tablets will see different search results than users that search from a phone. Here’s what our rank tracker has observed so far:
Get on board! How to track your mobile specific ranks and check mobile-friendliness
Search results for the same term, from the exact same location will be different 100% of the time on mobile than on desktop. So, you need to track your websites correctly. That means you need to consider all the unique indexing types that Google uses, to see the most accurate picture of your organic ranks.
Let’s say you are optimizing a pest control service that operates in the Queens area of New York. So, the search term ‘pest control new york’ will have to be optimized for mobile users and tracked as follows:
Location – Queens, New York. Every Google search is geo-targeted (desktop or mobile). In this case we would only care about the people from the area that is relevant for the business.
UI language – English. this refers to the default UI language of the user. People see different search results based on their default UI language.
Device types: Desktop, iPhone, iPad, Android phone, Android tablet. Your website will most likely rank differently for all these devices, so they should all be tracked accordingly.
Final result may look something like this:
In case you want to learn more about those future-proofed indexing types, here is our full breakdown:
|The 2019 Layer Cake of Google Ranks|
Next we have the issue of performance
After you finished the first optimization phase, run the website through our SEO Audit tool and see the results. You will get a general SEO score as well as a detailed report about topics such as loading speed and structure:
All of the above are free. You get a free usage of our SEO audit tool during our free 7-day premium trial.
No credit card details required to activate!
Making sure a website is mobile friendly and follows all of Google’s guidelines and industry standards right from the start, is much easier than optimizing an existing website that abides the guidelines only partially or not at all. So, if you are just starting your website, we hope you read this article on time.
What this move means for the future is that eventually every new and old website will be completely subjected to Mobile-First indexing. Google is allowing for a few years of grace to let webmasters to make that transition. Come 2020, we believe, if your website is especially slow and not mobile-friendly, you will have a clear disadvantage over websites with better mobile optimization, even if they create inferior content to yours.
Finally, be sure you are subscribed to our blog so you will get tips and news on search engine lore every week!
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