Mobile-first indexing has been at the forefront of changing SEO strategy in 2018. When a web page is read by a search engine indexing robot, in this case GoogleBot, the information is stored in its index. This indexing affects the website in a number of ways, including how it is ranked in search results.
Mobile-first indexing signifies a major shift for Google and how it has traditionally indexed pages. It is solid recognition of the fact that more users are viewing sites on their mobile instead of desktop. In 2018, 52% of all internet traffic was mobile and this figure will increase again this year. Michael Turpin, Head of Technology, Data & Development at 52 Digital, says ‘As stats for responsive browsing have increased, this is something that has become more important as people are viewing the web in a different way.’
Although Google will now be changing which web page content it is indexing, this shouldn’t be an issue for sites that use a responsive web design, as mobile and desktop versions are typically very similar. Google uses the content available in its index for all decisions.
Websites that will be affected by the new indexing are those that provide separate mobile and desktop versions with differing and abbreviated information. Although this may have had its advantages in the past, search ranking may suffer considerably. There may also be a negative effect if the mobile pages lack structure or have inadequate metadata. The mobile version of each page may not be correctly verified in the Google Search Console if it this information is not provided. A website’s rating will then be reduced if the link profiles pointing toward mobile pages are weaker than the desktop versions and if pages are poorly optimised for mobile. It may be the time to reconsider how visitors are viewing any content you produce and optimise to provide a greatly improved mobile service and user experience to protect yourself from the negative effects of these changes.