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Mobile-First Indexing: What is it and what do I need to know?

Some of you may have received notifications from Google recently about Mobile-First Indexing being enabled for your website, either by email or as a message in your search console. Google first announced the roll-out of these changes in March and have been slowly migrating websites over to this newer system in stages.

Since we have received a number of these notifications over the past few weeks, we thought a blog post explaining what it means was in order to avoid any confusion or panic.

What is Mobile-First Indexing?

The name is a clue to what it entails. Google will now prioritise the mobile version of your website when they gather content to include in their search results. This is a change from treating the desktop version as the main version to search for.

Google have explained their reason for doing so is to reflect the growing number of people predominantly using their mobile devices to access their search results.

What you need to know about it

First of all, there is no need to panic! Mobile-First does not mean mobile-only, and your website will not suddenly disappear from the Google search results, even if it isn’t mobile friendly. Google has said that websites will be migrated over to the mobile-first index as they are deemed ready for it … so if you have received a notification treat it as a compliment!

Most websites, in truth, will not be affected by these changes, and if you have a responsive or mobile-friendly site already, you shouldn’t notice anything different.

The websites that will be affected by this are ones that serve a separate website to mobile users, and ones that present a different, stripped down version with less content and fewer images when being browsed by a mobile device.

That being taken into consideration, we have a few handy tips you can follow to put your mind at ease.

  • Check that your website is mobile-friendly.

Google have a handy tool that you can use to test your website here.

  • Make sure that your website isn’t slow.

Loading speed has been an important factor in how well your site performs for both users and search engines for some time now; a slow website will always have a detrimental effect on both your search rankings and conversions.

There are a number of tools you can use to test if your website has any loading speed issues, Google Pagespeed Insights is a good one that provides recommendations where needed.

  • Ensure any content that can be found on the desktop version of your website can also be found when browsing from a mobile device.

Check that content isn’t hidden by any settings or formatting options, and that images are sized appropriately so they can viewed as intended.

  • If you do have a separate website for mobile users, such as an m.your-domain.com version of it, then there are some more in-depth areas you will need to check.

Google have written a guide of best practices for the mobile-first index moving forward, which you can find here.

If you have any further questions or are not sure if this will affect you, get in touch. One of our SEO experts will happily go through your website with you to see if anything needs to be done.

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