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Be Prepared for the Google’s Mobile-First Index! Here is Everything You Need to Know

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Posted by ThinSquare ON Tuesday , 9 Jan 2018 2 Comments

Google has always been the game changer when it comes to providing inventions or products across the internet platform. While being a search engine at its core, Google has always tried to create better algorithms to make the search experience easier and efficient.

Since the very beginning, it has tried to have the data and websites ranked and sorted in order to bring the user a better search experience. The world saw a digital revolution when desktops and laptops took over our lives and people looked for anything and everything on the internet. Google became a hero by helping people do just that. However having seen the devices being shifted from a desktop to a more mobile-based platform, Google saw the issues pouring in.

For a while now, Google has been ranking websites based on its desktop-based content. Which meant if a user looked up a service or a product, the user will end up with search result based on the rank its desktop site has received which will mean, no matter how limited and lose the mobile content is on the website of the product or the service, it will end up as the top result. Opening that will only bring sorrow to your eyes and an ungrateful search experience.

To halt the same, Google decided to shift primarily on the mobile-first index.

What does this mean?
Well to put it simply, the search listings created by Google will be ranked on the basis of the content the mobile version of the website shows.
The mobile-based web app will be the primary search engine index. The results will be fetched while looking at the web through the eyes of a mobile and not a desktop anymore.

How did it change?
The Progressive Web Apps are to be blamed for the same.
What PWAs do is they download an app shell and a configuration file on the device. This made the website act like a native app while dynamically being a web page. To make it easier to understand, a ‘web app’ can turn into a PWA by simply adding a few extra files and functionality which makes them a Javascript-heavy website acting like a native app.
The PWAs are important as the Android OS treats them same as the native apps. A few of them have been added to the Play Store too. A website with an app icon, without an address bar, functional both on and offline is a great way to have them be discovered on the web while being fully functional at the same time with minimum overhead.

But what if you don’t have a mobile site?
Google doesn’t want you to worry about it. If the mobile site doesn’t exist, it will simply move on and have your desktop site be crawled. Google said: ”If you only have a desktop site, we’ll continue to index your desktop site just fine, even if we’re using a mobile user agent to view your site.”

What if the mobile and desktop site has a huge difference?
If your mobile site has data extremely minimal as compared to your desktop site if have to be a little cautious. The page 1 of your mobile site needs to have the same amount of content as your page 1 of the desktop site or else the mobile version will be assessed by Google.
So it is imperative if you have a mobile site to work on it since it will be the one indexed at a higher priority.

Will this change the rankings dramatically?
Not likely though. Gary Illyes and Paul Haahr from Google have said that in the grand schemes of things, the rankings won’t be affected a lot. The real reason indexing is being modified is to make the mobile search experience better. Even though it is still too early to say but in the long run, there’ll not be a lot of changes in the rankings.

When will we fully see it in action?
Months from now. The full rollout still requires a lot of time. Google however will keep using the mobile-indexing for a few users. There will be a lot of testing based on the previous searches hence it is still too early to say. If the results are favourable it might be pushed out sooner. At the same time, if there’s any fault with the algorithm, they might just push the entire thing back.

How will the mobile rankings be affected?
According to Google, the website, not owning a mobile-friendly content will not do so good.
Currently, even the mobile-based searches are working on the desktop-friendly indexing which pumps out content differently for desktop and mobile. On top of that, a ranking system will be used that is mobile-friendly.
This will boost the mobile listings. On it the content that not mobile-friendly wasn’t performing as well. With the new update, the initial content will be mobile-indexed and then a mobile-friendly boost will be applied on the results which will separate desktop and mobile-friendly content.

Does Google view your mobile content?
The best way out to look at this is to use Google services. Go to fetch and render tool in Search Console. You need to specify mobile: smartphone user-agent. The result is fetched and rendered, what you see is what Google sees and indexes from your mobile site.
If you see any issues in the content, you need to fix it from your end.

Your mobile will define the Ranking signals
As in the past, your desktop signals defined the rankings of your website; speed of your mobile site will define the ranking of your mobile and desktop site from now on. Since more and more users are using mobile devices for searching, the desktop rankings signals will become obsolete and Google is aware of that.

Will we see two different indexes?
Google doesn’t plan for it. In the longer run, they are planning for a single indexing, either mobile or desktop.
With the passage of time, there will be experimental searches will be done based on mobile-indexes on a number of users devices which none of us would have the control over.
If in the long run mobile-indexing seems to be appropriate and user-friendly it will take over. However, it if doesn’t seem to work well, Google will go back to desktop-indexing.

When Will we start noticing the change?
We won’t be able to. According to Google, there’ll be very little to differentiate and we might not be able to see any change at all which they are aiming at. It won’t be region-specific so there will be no way to tell where it would be applied first. It would be a global rollout.

Anything else will be seen in the time to come. There are still a lot to presume which won’t be judged until the mobile-indexing is rolled out. So we just need to sit and brace ourselves for the yet another revolutionary change, yet again by Google.

  • https://www.tarunithub.com Saurav Kumar

    Nice blog

  • Emily Rock

    Great article, very informative overview.