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Mobile-first Index 2.0

Back in March we talked about Google’s transition into mobile-first indexing. To those that have missed it, this means web-pages will now be ranked based on the way they display on mobile. If the mobile version of a website is not up to current standards, or is nonexistent, the website’s ranking will be heavily affected. Google started sending out notifications in April but it appears they have picked up the pace in the last couple of months. 

The notification reads:

Mobile-first indexing enabled for: websites URL
To owner of websites URL
This means that you may see more traffic in your logs from Googlebot Smartphone. You may also see that snippets in Google Search results are now generated from the mobile version of your content.
Background: Mobile-first indexing means that Googlebot will now use the mobile version of your site for indexing and ranking, to better help our (primarily mobile) users find what they’re looking for. Google’s crawling, indexing, and ranking systems have historically used the desktop version of your site’s content, which can cause issues for mobile searchers when the desktop version differs from the mobile version. Our analysis indicates that the mobile and desktop versions of your site are comparable.

 

The last line is pertinent to each site. If a website doesn’t have a mobile version or is not mobile friendly, the notification will point to that fact instead and advise accordingly.

Although Google announced this update in 2016, many webmasters are still voicing their concerns in forums and blogs that their unresponsive (not mobile friendly) websites have been switched over. So far, these frustrations have fallen on deaf ears as Google is showing no signs of making exceptions. Google hasn’t made it clear yet when the roll-out will be finished, but with the percentage of mobile users increasing month-on-month, it can’t be long before it's complete.

This change will also have an impact on SEO. Googlebot is now crawling mobile versions of websites. As mobile devices have smaller screens, SEO writers will have to come up with more concise ways of putting content together whilst making sure that keywords, metadata and location tags stay in the mix. 

Web designers will have to be extra careful and make sure the mobile pages they design display immaculately. Sites that aren't finger friendly and have overlays that prevent accessing content can cause frustration even for the most patient user. Even though a page might be deemed mobile friendly by Googlebot, poor UI and UX for mobile can lead to a high bounce rate which will directly affect the ranking of the site. 

It's important to clarify that websites without a mobile friendly version will not disappear from search results entirely. Instead, their ranking will suffer which will push them down the ranking order (those extra pages at the bottom of the search results you hardly ever click on). 

If you are unsure about the quality and/or responsiveness of your site, you can check if your website is mobile friendly here.

 

For a responsive, mobile-friendly website, contact the team at Expert.

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