If you are a practitioner in the field of digital relevancy, you will hear about mobile-first indexing more often. It is the latest advancement in Google’s endless efforts in making the web mobile-friendly in reflecting the behavior trends of users. But the confusion that is created around to understand its meaning completely gives rise to such questions: Will your site be good enough if it’s mobile-friendly? Would you be required to change a part or all of it?
In this blog, all that you need to know about mobile-first indexing and its importance in SEO efforts will be explained.
The mobile version of the website you own ultimately becomes the beginning point for whatever Google contains in its index. This is mobile-first indexing. It’s known as mobile-first because it isn’t just a mobile index, for example, if a website does not possess a version that is mobile-friendly, the desktop site would still be involved in the index. But you should know that lack of a website experience that is mobile-friendly can have a negative impact on the ranking of the website, and a website that has a sound mobile experience has more potential to receive a boost for its rankings even if it’s for the searchers on the desktop.
There is only a single index, the same as the one that Google uses now. If you notice a change in mobile-first indexing, know that a new mobile-first index is not generated, nor a separate mobile index is created with a desktop index that remains active. Instead of that, it changes how the main content is added to the current index. Lately, Google has been experimenting a lot with this approach in order to index on a few sites, which were selected on the basis of their perceived readiness. According to Gary Illyes, it will perhaps take some years before “we reach an index that is only mobile-first.”
On Webmasters Blog, Google has stated that:
“We will be evaluating sites independently on their readiness for mobile-first indexing based on the above criteria and transitioning them when ready. This process has already started for a handful of sites and is closely being monitored by the search team.”
Even if your desktop version is far from being mobile-friendly and if you don’t have access to a mobile version for your website, you don’t need to worry. Your content can be indexed, nevertheless. However, you might be unable to rank high as compared to the websites that are mobile-friendly. This may leave a negative impact on your rankings on mobile search results as well as desktop search because it will seem as if you are having a user experience that is poorer than other sites (as you know that the crawler would be, what we call it, a mobile crawler).
Mobile-first indexing is actually an indication of Google being less dependent on HTML URLs and conventional links for ranking. It seems as if Google is gradually moving away from the need of reliance on a URL system of managing and organizing content, in behalf of an API type approach which is based on entities, thanks to structured data, instead of URL style links.