How Google's Mobile-First Indexing Will Impact Your SEO Efforts?

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Right from the beginning, most of the search engines including Google have been desktop first. Any guesses why? There were no smartphones then. So they indexed and ranked desktop websites. Things have changed dramatically today. More than half of the world has a smartphone, and more than half of the web traffic now comes from them only so indexing mobile sites is going to hold the key to search Google rankings.

Global mobile data traffic grew 74% in 2015


Moreover, according to InMobi, 60% of all Internet access is mostly mobile by some estimates.


Source: Marketing Land

Changes In Indexing
Existing ranking systems look at the desktop version of the pages to assess its relevance to the users. It has issues as mobile pages have less content. Furthermore, the pages that are viewed by the mobile searchers are not being evaluated by the indexing algorithms. To make the results more useful for mobile user, Google has made the index mobile-first.

What Does It Mean?
It means that the search algorithms will make primarily use the mobile version of the site’s content to show ranks of pages from that site or show snippets from those pages in the result. So those who have a responsive site or an adaptive site where the primary content and markup is same across mobile and the desktop site, nothing needs to be changed. But if the site configuration where the primary content and its markup is different across mobile and the desktop versions, the site must be changed to accommodate mobile-first indexing.


Source: Search Engine Journal


Source: Search Engine Journal

How Will It Affect SEO Efforts?
The way site is indexed is very central to its ranking on the Google. The mobile-first indexing will have its ramifications on the search rankings sooner than later. Following efforts that may be required to make sure that your website retains its rankings:

Get A Responsive Site If You Don’t Have One
With new algorithms kicking in, a responsive website is a must have. Such websites don’t have a desktop or mobile version, but the site is coded to display based on its view. So the desktop site might see lengthy navigation menu, sidebars and all kinds of images and the content blocks. But when you see the same website on the mobile you’ll see a website that is optimized for mobile browsing. So far responsiveness was seen as an additional thing. But with mobile first indexing having such site version is crucial to maintaining the rankings. For those who have been using WordPress platform, creating the responsive design is easy, and most of the latest templates are responsive. It means that you might have a responsive website already. But if it is not responsive, then stylesheet and markup changes will be required.

Mobile Content Optimization
If you have maintained different versions for desktops and mobile, then you will have to optimize mobile content as well. Most of the mobile websites are designed with less content than the desktop versions all with the intention to give the smartphone users a better experience. But with mobile-first indexing, the mobile websites will need to have similar content. To this end, the mobile websites can make use of the tabs, responsive boxes to have more content of the web pages. It will make sure that the newer algorithms can assess the content of the mobile site to present the most relevant result to the user.

Page Load Speed Of Mobile Site
So far the traditional search algorithm has relied on the desktop page load speed, with mobile-first indexing all these things are set to change as well. Good page load times across all devices are going to be critical for desktop as well as mobile sites. If your website is taking more than two seconds to load, the chances are that it will need some changes. Large images may not be required as they may not be smartphone friendly.

Structured Markup
In the mobile first-indexing era, you will have to serve structured markup across the desktops and mobile. If you are maintaining desktop and mobile versions as well, you can make use of the structured data testing tool and compare the results. If you are adding structured data to the mobile site, you must avoid adding a large amount of markup which is not relevant to the specific information content of every document.

robots.txt & Canonical Links
You can make use of the robots.txt testing tool to make sure that the mobile version is available to the Googlebot. There is no need to make changes to the canonical links.


Source: WebMaster

Submitting & Verifying Mobile Version
It is meant for those site owners who have submitted their desktop site in the search console. If you have not submitted it, you to make do add and verify the mobile version as well.

In The End
Google algorithms keep on updating themselves so you have to keep a close eye on any significant changes which may affect the rankings significantly.

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