What Do We Know About Google’s Mobile-First Index?

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Our Technical SEO Specialist Tom Williams takes us through Google’s change to the way it indexes content.

Back in November 2016, Google announced plans to make changes to their index; making it mobile-first. This change affects the way Google indexes content.

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What does the current process involve?

Simply put, Google looks at the desktop version of a website, and gathers data that enables it to rank the website’s mobile version.

What will the change involve?

Once Google goes mobile-first, the process will do the exact opposite; Google will look at the mobile version of a website, and gather data that enables it to rank the website’s desktop version.

When is the change going to happen?

According to Google updates, the change is “likely” to happen in 2018, but there are no hard dates yet.

Tests are currently underway, which could mean the hard release is brought forward. If the tests acquire negative results, this will be pushed back.

Note: if you don’t have a mobile website, Google will continue to crawl your desktop site. They do, however, recommend you build a mobile version.

What are the key elements we need to consider? 

  1. Content and Links

All of your content and links should be easily accessible, regardless of how your website is accessed to begin with. Also, you should consider how these are displayed, as you don’t want your products placed too far down the page.

Note: regarding the mobile-first indexing process, Google has confirmed having content in tabs is fine, as long as the content loads when the page loads.

  1. Page Speed

This is already an important ranking factor to consider. When mobile-first is released, it will still be just as important as it is now.

  1. Structured Data

When mobile-first goes live, your structured data mark-up needs to be present and formatted correctly. 

  1. Intrusive Interstitials

Google launched an Interstitials Penalty earlier this year. This focuses on pages that make content more difficult to access.

Note: if interstitials are used for reasons surrounding legalities, this shouldn’t be an issue.

Ensure any pop-ups on your website don’t fully obstruct that page’s content, and that they can be easily closed down by the user.

What does Google want?

 Ultimately, Google hopes this change will have minimal impacts on rankings. The search engine giant plans for a quality neutral release that shouldn’t affect the way webmasters conduct their processes, and has mentioned messaging webmasters to forewarn them of any issues that might cause problems.

If webmasters are worried about this mobile-first indexing change, they are advised to use “Fetch as Google”, a tool within Search Console that allows them to decipher exactly how Google “sees” their pages. 

If you would like to find out more about how this release could affect you and your business, don’t hesitate to contact our SEO expertsThey’ll be able to discuss this further and answer any queries you may have.

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