Absolute Digital Media Outlines the Importance of Mobile-First Indexing


There’s no escaping it, mobile-first indexing is moving forward with its full roll-out and businesses need to be prepared if they haven’t already been doing so. After originally planning to start the process of switching to mobile-first indexing in September 2020, Google announced in July it would be postponing this until March 2021. This has given websites additional time to prepare, so there is no time like the present to review what needs to be done to avoid any disruptions. As an SEO company in London, monitoring what Google is up to is part of our day to day process to ensure our clients are aware and ready for any impending updates and changes, so we thought it would be a good opportunity to go over what is mobile-first indexing, why has it been delayed, and why it’s important for your website.

What is Mobile-First Indexing?

A few years ago, Google started experimenting with crawling websites using a smartphone Googlebot. They found from their extensive analysis that the majority of websites were already ready for mobile-first indexing if they introduced it, 70% to be exact, owing to the fact many people browse the web from a mobile device. From this, Google decided in March to fully go ahead with the switch to mobile-first indexing in September. However, in July they discovered that many websites were still not ready for this shift and issues still needed to be ironed out. Pushing back the roll-out to March 2021 meant more time for those not ready to get up to speed.

The idea around mobile-first indexing is to primarily use the mobile version of a webpage for ranking and indexing purposes. If a website has both a desktop URL and mobile URL separately for pages, Google will index the mobile version. The issue is, for sites who still do not have a mobile version of their pages, it is no longer viable to have just a classic desktop build. At Absolute Digital Media, we have been advising and helping clients with building responsive websites where no matter which device a user visits your website from, be it a tablet, mobile or desktop, the website adapts effortlessly to match. These types of site are ready for mobile-first indexing as they have been developed to meet the requirements needed.

Absolute Digital Media’s Advice on How to Be Ready for Mobile-First Indexing

As mobile-first indexing is not something you can opt-out of, your website will need to be ready for the new date of March 2021 when it starts to roll out globally. You also will not know the exact date your website will be switched and will not be able to force it through earlier if say your site is ready before then. Google confirmed any website that is built and published since July 2019 will be defaulted to mobile-first indexing, so for those sites that are older than this (just a few), adjustments need to be made.

The overall way to look at it is to ensure the experience on both desktop and mobile is the same with no issue over the loading of images, page content, site architecture etc. A responsive web design addresses all of this from scratch, so for an older website, it’s recommended to look at and review the following areas, something at Absolute Digital Media we’ve been advising for our clients:

  • Ensure the content displayed on your website is the same on both mobile and desktop devices. This includes text, images, videos, and links.
  • All metadata, such as page titles, descriptions, robots meta tags, and all structured data is the same on all devices.
  • Ensure all primary content on a page loads properly and doesn’t use ‘lazy-loading’ that requires user interaction first, such as clicking, swiping, or typing.
  • Use high-quality images, avoiding those that are too small or have a low resolution. Also, all videos should follow best practices, such as using the correct video format and positioned in an easy to find place when viewing on mobile.

These points and many others are detailed in Google’s handy guide to preparing for mobile-first indexing which is well worth reading to see all the best practices required in one place.

The bigger issue in not having your website prepared for mobile-first indexing is not providing the user experience those using mobile devices require. If users find your website difficult to navigate and unresponsive, they will spend less time on there and look elsewhere for another that provides a better experience. Not only that, the more responsive your website is, the more highly favoured by Google in the rankings it will be. So, now that there is more time to prepare for the switch, review your current website and start its mobile-first evolution today.

Source: Google Image