Google to start mobile-first indexing
In today’s world the majority of internet traffic comes from mobile devices. In fact, in the UK 12% more people are using smartphones in 2016 than there were in 2013, whereas desktop usage is now 73%, down from 79% in 2013.
In a move designed to support this change in the web user dynamic, Google has announced it will start to roll out mobile-first indexing for its search engine results pages (SERPs). This means that the Google SERPs rankings will be based on the mobile version of a site’s content.
The impact of this algorithm change
While Google has stated it will continue to try and improve the search experience for all users, this announcement is a very clear signal to website owners everywhere that they need to be thinking ‘mobile first’. Websites that are not mobile friendly are likely to be hit hard by the update (at least in the mobile SERPs), and Google has made it clear that websites should have the same content on all screen sizes to maintain their rankings.
If you have a website that is responsive or serves content dynamically, you should be fine. However, sites that are configured to display different mark-up (or different content) to users on different devices should reconsider their approach.
Google has listed a few ways to test if your site is configured in a way to cope with these changes:
- Make sure to serve structured mark-up for both the desktop and mobile versions. Sites can verify the equivalence of their structured mark-up on desktop and mobile devices by using the Structured Data Testing Tool and comparing the output for desktop and mobile.
- Use the robots.txt testing tool to verify your site is accessible to Googlebots – Googlebots crawl, assess, and index your web content and page
Timeframe for the algorithm change
Google has begun testing this mobile-first indexing for some users, but this is on a minimal scale and the new update probably won’t be rolled out for a few months at least. However, the success of their testing may speed up their rollout.