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About Google’s mobile-first index

Published by : PDM on 01 May 2017

With the huge rise of mobile search users, Google shifts to looking primarily at mobile content, when deciding how to rank results. Learn about Google's mobile-first index here.

In November 2016, Google released official news about this with the following statement:

“To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first. Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results. Of course, while our index will be built from mobile documents, we’re going to continue to build a great search experience for all users, whether they come from mobile or desktop devices.”

In the same official news release, Google said:

“We understand this is an important shift in our indexing and it’s one we take seriously. We’ll continue to carefully experiment over the coming months on a small scale and we’ll ramp up this change when we’re confident that we have a great user experience.”

Furthermore, in February 2017 at a Pubcon conference held in Las Vegas - Gary Illyes, a webmaster trend analyst from Google said that "Google’s First Indexing (MFI) is one of the biggest changes made to their index."

What does this mean for your website?

If you have a responsive, dynamic or mobile-friendly version of your website, rather than just a desktop version, Google will index your mobile version first, hence the name ‘Mobile-First Index,’ and will evaluate the content, links and structured data to determine how it will rank the results.

If a mobile-friendly version of your site is unreachable or doesn’t exist, Google will just use the desktop version of your site to evaluate and rank it. However, you will not benefit from mobile-friendly ranking.

What can I take away from this?

- If you have a desktop and mobile versions of your site, Google will look at its mobile-first protocol.

- Regardless of whether you have a desktop only version or desktop and mobile versions of your site, you should aim to perfect your pages with optimisation.

- Be aware that the content you want to rank for on mobile has to be on your mobile site or it will not rank at all.