Mobile-First Indexing: What Should I Know?

Gary Green
Gary Green
August 12, 2022

The term “mobile-first indexing” is used to refer to the way in which Google has begun to shift the way it ranks and indexes content from desktop versions to mobile versions of websites. Today, we’re living in an increasingly mobile era. For several years now, mobile searches have been more numerous than desktop searches, so it isn’t too surprising that Google has decided to rank and index content based on mobile pages - after all, more people view mobile versions than desktop ones.

For developers, this has meant that sites must be optimised for mobile users if they are to rank highly in the Google search engine. If yours hasn’t yet been optimised, preparation is key. Mobile-first indexing was first announced by Google in 2016, with the aim of rolling it out slowly until every site would have mobile-first indexing by March of 2021.

It’s very likely, then, that your site is already on mobile-first indexing. Therefore, ensuring that your site is mobile responsive couldn’t be more important for your ranking success. Here, we take a closer look at how you can ensure that your site is primed for mobile-first indexing.

Carrying Out Technical Checks

You need to ensure that a number of technical elements have been implemented on your mobile website. Using Site Audit to crawl your site’s is a good idea. First, crawl your site with the desktop user-agent then crawl it once more using the mobile user-agent. This will allow the desktop and mobile sites to be compared and any new problems will be flagged that occur on the mobile version but not on the desktop version of the site.

Checking on-page tags like meta descriptions, title tags, canonical tags, hreflang tags, image alt attributes, meta robots tags and structured data should be your first port of call.

Some other checks include:

  • Checking your robots.txt file if you have an m-dot site to see whether this subdomain is operating under different rules, and ensure your images, JavaScript and CSS can be crawled on all sites.
  • Google’s page speed measurement is now also based on the mobile version of a website, so you need to make sure that yours is loading as quickly as possible.
  • Carry out a visual check of your site to ensure there aren’t too many ads, intertitials and pop-ups taking up excess screen.
  • Make sure that your tap targets, text size and padding are all in line with mobile usability guidelines.

If you’re operating separate mobile and desktop websites, there’s no way of avoiding your site’s mobile version appearing on both mobile and desktop search results once you’ve been switched over to Google’s mobile-first indexing. It’s therefore best to get rid of m-dot completely to go entirely responsive, but you could redirect users to your desktop version by adding conditional logic. In general, though, m-doc is complex and things can easily go wrong, particularly when adding more elements such as hreflang, so mobbing off these systems when possible is always best practice.

Keeping Your Important Content

Usually, there’ll be a few differences between the way your website appears on a desktop screen and how it looks on a mobile device. After all, mobile devices have smaller screens, so it’s much more difficult to show every element on the desktop website on a mobile. There is no space to have mega-menus or sidebars, and that means mobile sites usually hide or exclude some content that can be found on the desktop version of the site.

It’s important to note that the content of your mobile site doesn’t need to be entirely identical to the content of your desktop version. However, all key content needs to be visible to mobile users. If you exclude element such as email opt-ins it won’t cause a major issue from the SEO viewpoint, however excluding elements just because it seems too long for a mobile device may have negative impacts.

At one time, when content failed to show by default on mobile it counted less than content that was visible. Now, all that has changed. Since mobile-first indexing arrived on the scene, more design options are available such as tabbed content, and therefore content that has been hidden to allow for an improved user experience is no longer discounted by Google.

A lot of ecommerce websites have used such design elements extremely effectively, creating simplified pages for viewing on mobile devices that can provide users with additional details whenever they request them, for example FAQs, extra product details or user reviews. This proves that it’s possible to harness the power of the latest mobile design elements to provide users with all of your most important content, regardless of which type of device they choose to use to access your site.

Links And Navigation

It’s likely that there’s no cause for concern about any external links to your website. They’ll usually consolidate correctly and be counted for mobile pages so long as the canonical tags are right. When it comes to internal links, though, it’s essential to ensure all the most important links are still in existence on your site’s mobile version. Often, mobile sites skip some elements in order to save on space. There are many sites that use smaller menus for mobile devices that those found on their desktop sites. This could negatively impact your ranking, though, since it can change the way PageRank flows through the site.

What Should I Keep In Mind?

Since all sites should now be on mobile-first indexing, it’s absolutely vital to ensure that you’ve done everything possible to make your website mobile friendly. Follow the advice that is provided above, and you can make sure that, regardless of which type of device your site’s users choose to use to access your content, they will still be able to see and use all of your most important features correctly, and they will still enjoy an excellent user experience. This will, in turn, ensure your site ranks highly on the Google search engine.

Tell us about your project...
Fill in your details to get started and join over 50 businesses enjoying Key Business Marketing's expertise..
Contact Form Demo (#1)
We adhere to strict GDPR rules and do not reveal or sell your data to any third-parties. For more, please read our Privacy Policy.
Latest Insights
February 13, 2024
A Guide To Using ChatGPT To Carry Out Keyword Research

Discover how to harness the potential of ChatGPT for advanced keyword research in SEO with our comprehensive guide.

January 12, 2024
Bolstered Advertising From Google On YouTube Shorts

Explore the latest Google advancements in YouTube Shorts advertising! Discover how Google is boosting brand visibility and addressing revenue challenges.

December 15, 2023
How Do I Manage My WordPress Website’s Email Services?

Learn how to effectively manage your WordPress website's email services for optimal performance. Explore the three methods of sending emails in WordPress

November 26, 2023
Monitoring Your Website Performance And Optimizing Accordingly

Explore the art of monitoring and optimising your website's performance. Discover dedicated tools to prevent downtime, enhance user experience, and meet Google's performance standards.

November 10, 2023
Project Magi: A Major Change To Google Search

Discover the revolutionary shift in Google's search landscape with Project Magi! This upcoming AI-powered search experience makes some big promises!

October 23, 2023
Top Tips For WordPress Security

Discover essential tips to fortify your WordPress website's security. Safeguard your site with expert advice in this comprehensive guide

September 29, 2023
A Guide To WordPress Maintenance Plans

Mastering WordPress Maintenance Plans: Organize your website tasks efficiently, from backups to plugin updates.

September 18, 2023
Solutions For The Most Frequently Seen WordPress Errors

Discover expert solutions for the most common WordPress errors and streamline your website management.

September 2, 2023
Top Tips For Managing Your WordPress Website

Master the art of WordPress website management with our expert tips! Learn how to streamline maintenance, boost performance, and enhance security

View Our latest insights »
Get the latest digital marketing insights delivered straight to your inbox
Newsletter Form (#2)
We care about the protection of your data. No spam. Unsubscribe anytime.
02037 282 848
Mon-Fri 9am - 5.30pm
Digital marketing guidance at your fingertips
Copyright © 2022 KEY BM LTD Reg: E&W 11055943
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram