Mobile Indexing First

Is your site prepared? It better be by July 2019.

Google announced last week the official date that they will begin indexing your website by the mobile version.  In July of 2019, all sites will be indexed using the mobile version.

If you have a responsive site, that should not affect you however if you are using an outdated website or the WIX platform (where you edit the mobile separately) you will want to ensure your mobile version is a complete version of your website and not a ‘watered down’ version as was common a few years ago.

The official language from Google

Mobile-first indexing means Google predominantly uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking. Historically, the index primarily used the desktop version of a page’s content when evaluating the relevance of a page to a user’s query. Since the majority of users now access Google Search with a mobile device, Googlebot primarily crawls and indexes pages with the smartphone agent going forward.

Starting July 1, 2019, mobile-first indexing is enabled by default for all new websites (new to the web or previously unknown to Google Search). For older or existing websites, we continue to monitor and evaluate pages based on the best practices. We notify site owners through Search Console once they’re seen as being ready. Since the default state for new sites is mobile-first indexing, there’s no need to send a notification to new sites.

How can you ensure you’re website is indexed properly?

  • LOGIN TO YOUR WEBMASTER TOOLS/CONSOLE

You can check your indexing as well as any errors by logging into your google webmaster account.  This will give you a full overview of any errors (what type of errors) as well as the tools to correctly address them and request they be re-indexed.’

  • REDESIGN YOUR WEBSITE FOR RESPONSIVENESS

If you’ve been hesitating to update your website, now is the time.  Having a responsive website first and foremost ensures the user experience is a smooth one across all devices.  It also ensure Google will be indexing and crawling a full site, which is critical to your SEO.

Here are Google’s recommendations:

If this is simply too technical, please contact us for a complimentary assessment of your site

Best practices for dynamic serving and separate URLs

If your site has separate desktop and mobile content, which means you have a dynamic serving or separate URLs (or m-dot) site, make sure you follow the best practices below to prepare for mobile-first indexing:

  • Your mobile site should contain the same content as your desktop site. If your mobile site has less content than your desktop site, you should consider updating your mobile site so that its primary content is equivalent with your desktop site. This includes text, images (with alt-attributes), and videos – in the usual crawlable and indexable formats.
  • Structured data should be present on both versions of your site. Make sure URLs in the structured data on the mobile versions are updated to the mobile URLs. If you use Data Highlighter to provide structured data, regularly check the Data Highlighter dashboard for extraction errors.
  • Metadata should be present on both versions of the site. Make sure that titles and meta descriptions are equivalent across both versions of your site.

Additional best practices for separate URLs

If your site has separate URLs (also known as m-dot), there are additional best practices you should follow.

  • Verify both versions of your site in Search Console to make sure you have access to data and messages for both versions. Your site may experience a data shift when Google switches to mobile-first indexing for your site.

  • Check hreflang links on separate URLs. When you use rel=hreflang link elements for internationalization, link between mobile and desktop URLs separately. Your mobile URLs’ hreflang should point to mobile URLs, and similarly desktop URL hreflang should point to desktop URLs.

  • Ensure your servers have enough capacity to a handle potential increase in crawl rate on the mobile version of your site.

  • Verify that your robots.txt directives and robots meta tags work as you intended for both versions of your site. The robots.txt file lets you specify which parts of a website may be crawled or not, and the robots meta tags let you specify which parts of a website may be indexed or not. In most cases, sites should use the same robots.txt directives and robots meta tags for both mobile and desktop versions of their sites.

  • Make sure you have the correct rel=canonical and rel=alternate link elements between your mobile and desktop versions.

If you’re unsure how you’re affected (or if you’re affected), you’re welcome to contact us  for a complimentary assessment of your current site.