In June, everyone was talking about the new core update that Google released. But something even more important is coming in July.
Google has been talking about a mobile-first index since 2016. It has been live for almost a year now and now it will be used for all new websites from July 1.
What is mobile-first indexing?
Google ranks websites on a number of factors that include page speed, content, the age of the domain, the security of the site and countless others. This was done by crawling the desktop version of your website. The better your desktop version, the higher you ranked on Google search queries made on a laptop and on a phone.
What mobile-first indexing does is change the focus of Google’s crawls. Rather than only look at a website’s desktop version, Google will now go straight for the mobile version of a website. In cases where a mobile site version isn’t present, Google will revert to the desktop website but it may penalize websites as a result.
What can I expect from Google’s mobile-first index?
What this move will mean to you will depend on how old your website is and what kind of shape it is in.
New site owners
Google has said that all new websites will be indexed using the mobile version of their website as of July 1. This includes all websites created on and after July 1, as well as those created before July 1 that haven’t been indexed yet and are therefore not visible on Google.
The vast majority of new websites should be ready for a mobile-first index already. That’s because most modern websites are built with a responsive design that shows the same content across both mobile and desktop platforms. Any new website owner won’t be notified of this change in Google’s Search Console as it will be the default setting.
If you have already migrated to a mobile-first index, nothing will change for you. You won’t receive any notification from Google and the mobile version of your website will continue to be used for indexing.
If you have an old website and haven’t opted for mobile-first indexing yet, you don’t have anything to worry about…just yet. Google is still giving older websites plenty of time to get ready for mobile indexing.
You shouldn’t wait around, however. Do everything you can to get the mobile version of your website in line with your desktop website. As soon as Google sees that it is ready, you will be notified through the Search Console.
Is the desktop version of my site going to stop being indexed?
Not just yet. Old websites will still have the desktop version of their website indexed if they aren’t ready. New and early adopting websites will also have both looked at but the mobile version will take precedent.
When will I know my site is ready for mobile-first indexing?
You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to see if you’re ready for a mobile-first index. You can also use the URL Inspection Tool in the search console to check which version of your website Google is indexing. If it was crawled by Google Smartphone then Google is using the mobile version of your site.
For more information on mobile-first indexing or to get your website ready, get in touch with our search experts.