Google Mobile First Indexing is Here

google mobile searchIt’s a familiar refrain that online marketers have been hearing for years- mobile is taking over. Consumers are connected via their devices in record numbers and doing everything from searching to shopping to social media using smartphones and tablets.

And if your site is not optimized for mobile, you will lose out to competitors who are fully embracing mobile. Statistics show that 40% of users will go to the competitor after a bad mobile experience. Yet, an alarming 84% have experienced difficulty completing a mobile transaction.

StatCounter reports that mobile traffic in the US (smartphones + tablets) is now about 54% of total internet traffic (and 3.7 billion unique users). Additionally, mobile internet usage is projected by Statista to increase nearly sevenfold between 2016 and 2021.

Google Puts Mobile First

Underscoring the importance of mobile, Google recently announced it has begun to notify more websites of the migration to mobile-first indexing. That means the search giant will predominantly rely on the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking in search query results. Those with mobile sites only will see a significant increase in crawl rates from the Smartphone Googlebot.

To be clear, Google is not creating a separate mobile-first index. The search giant will continue to use only one index. Googlebot’s will primarily crawl and index pages with the smartphone code. This includes code related to browsers like Mozilla, Chrome, Safari and other mobile browsers.

In the past, crawling, indexing, and ranking systems have typically used the desktop version of a page’s content. But Google has begun to roll out mobile-first indexing for those who follow the best practices.

Additionally, those using separate URLs for desktop and mobile need to verify both versions of the site in Search Console. Marketers must check URL links. They need to ensure servers have enough capacity to handle potential increases in crawl rates since both will be crawled. Google will show the mobile version of pages in Search results and Google cached pages.

However, the best practices for dynamic serving and separate desktop and mobile URLs are a little different. The mobile site should contain the same content as the desktop site. So if the mobile site has less content, Google suggests updating it to bring it up to date, including text, images, and videos.

This move by Google has been in the works for nearly 2 years. This is yet another reminder that marketers must embrace mobile-first or be left behind.