What does Google Mobile-First Index mean for your site?

You have your website; you’re doing all the relevant digital marketing actions; you know that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about helping people find you when searching…. and then there is a critical juncture! Google changes SEO for what seems to be forever, by rolling out the Google Mobile-First Index! And the reason is pretty simple: mobile and tablet devices are now in the lead of Internet usage over desktop. In 2015, Google announced that more searches were conducted on mobile devices than on desktop computers and this shift toward mobile will not slow down.

Google wants to make sure that mobile and desktop users are provided a great user experience.

What is the Mobile-First Index?

The information Google collects on every web page is placed in a huge catalog (known as an index) which is used when search results are formulated. Mobile versions are now being treated as the primary page to index as opposed to desktop pages being previously indexed first and foremost.

Indexing is when they make a copy of your page in a format that’s useful to the ranking algorithm. This is basically caffeine, from what I gather.

The mobile-first index has been rolled out to some users, though it appears to be a gradual process, much like many of the company’s updates. There appear to be no firm dates, but experts are estimating that the rollout will be taking place over the next months.

Simply put, with this new change, Google is seeking to stop bad user experience on mobile devices and if your site’s content isn’t important to be on mobile then maybe it will be classed as non-authoritative or irrelevant for the content you claim to have.

This update will improve users’ search experience on mobile

There is no need to panic, especially if your site uses responsive web design: a definite recommendation by Google and whereby the elements follow a fluid grid, have flexible text and images, and, media queries provide authority to a layout’s flexibility (CSS). We all agree that pros of responsive web design include: increased reach to clients on smartphones and tables, a consistent brand and user experience on all devices, it is great for SEO, and of course, updates and maintenance are through single content source. So, simply put: your website must look great and function flawlessly on desktop and all mobile devices and responsive web design will increase your visibility on search engines.

If you’re not fully ready with a responsive web design, you can ensure that your content is adequately formulated for desktop and mobile. There is no need to scale your content to fit a smaller screen, since you may face eliminating ranking keywords. Make sure you are thinking that the information on your desktop version should appear on your mobile site.

Once you are comfortable with your content you should keep in mind some technical details to ensure your website’s mobile architecture is complete. What do you need to think about? The ease of navigation and information location, and to make sure that that all your links are working. And if you haven’t done so by now, make sure you verify your mobile site on the Google Search Console. That way Google will primarily index your mobile site (mobile first!).


Some 2018 tips and predictions with the roll out of Mobile First Index

  • Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) – an open standard for any publisher to have pages load quickly on mobile devices – will be more important and may even be a ranking signal.
  • The internal linking experience will be tailored for mobile devices, meaning that there will be no more heavy pages with ads, JavaScipt etc.
  • With Mobile First Index rolling out, it may be time to reconsider how we use analytics, since it is a different ball game when it comes to mobile. An idea to consider would be the use of external services, like Hotjar.
  • Websites with apps and app products may be positively affected, since they will have more chances of getting the mobile data they need so that they can tailor their apps accordingly so that they match their new mobile audience.


Google is still working on page speed measurement processes specific to mobile sites. Mobile First Index is planned to be introduced in 2018, though there is no fixed date. So what you need to do is check the user experience on both your desktop and mobile versions of your site, make sure they are both the same and user-friendly. At the same time, make sure you are keeping a close eye on your rankings so that you can spot if your site has been affected and you will have the upper hand in quickly correcting any complications that might appear.


Are you ready? Contact us for a FREE, no obligation audit of your website.



By Paul K, 24 Nov 2017

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