Follow the above guidelines laid out above, and you’ll be in good shape. To refresh your memory, they include:
Your mobile site should contain the same content as your desktop site. Google warns here that if you intentionally have less content on a mobile page than a desktop page, you should anticipate losing some traffic when that page is indexed.
Also slotted for this spring is the completion of Google’s plan to switch all sites on the web over to mobile-first indexing.
We had Mobilegeddon back in 2015, when Google made mobile-friendliness a factor for ranking in the search results. We had the Speed Update in 2018, when mobile speed became a ranking factor. And this spring, the Page Experience Update will be rolling out and is due to make mobile-friendliness, stability, and interactivity vital ranking signals (more on Core Web Vitals here).
You do have to worry, though, about whether or not your site is optimized to be indexed on a mobile-first basis. Let’s talk a bit about some steps you can take now to ensure your site is optimized for mobile-first indexing.
The original date by which new websites would, by default, be indexed on a mobile-first basis was July 1, 2019. Websites created prior to that date would be notified via Search Console when their sites were officially switched over.
The recent history of “mobile-first” algorithm updates is a busy one. Over the last several years, Google has made a deliberate effort to not only return more accurate search results for queries made on mobile devices, but also to prioritize rankings based on which websites perform best on mobile devices.
And of course, if you want another pair of expert eyes on your site, don’t hesitate to give the SEO experts over at LOCALiQ a call.
If you’re not sure whether or not your site is prepared for mobile-first indexing, you’ve already taken a crucial step most site owners miss–you’re thinking deliberately about how Google views and indexes your website!
Google recommends taking a number of steps to ensure your site is optimized for mobile-first indexing. Here are some of the most important ones.
How do I optimize for mobile-first indexing?
“Historically, the index primarily used the desktop version of a page’s content when evaluating the relevance of a page to a user’s query. Since the majority of users now access Google Search with a mobile device, Googlebot primarily crawls and indexes pages with the smartphone agent going forward.”
1. Make sure that Googlebot can access and render your content
If you have structured data on your site, make sure that it’s present on both versions of your site. Check that you’re using correct URLs in structured data. If you use Data Highlighter, train it on your mobile site.
- That the same meta tags are used to crawl both versions of your site. This is the default setting on most websites, so unless you or a developer has intentionally configured it otherwise, you needn’t worry too much about this one.
- That Google can see any lazy-loaded content.
- That you’re not blocking specific URLs with the disallow directive.
2. Make sure content is the same on desktop and mobile
One specific tip Google gives here is to make sure the headers on your mobile site match your desktop site.
Google does not expect you to know, at a glance, how many of the above factors you’ve optimized for. They do expect you to regularly check Search Console for mobile errors, and to make a good faith effort to fix those errors when they crop up.
3. Check your structured data
What about the last 30%? Well, they’re almost done, and late this month we heard from Google’s John Mueller that the process would be wrapped up soon:
5. Stay on top of mobile errors
In order to do that, you first need to claim your site in Search Console and submit a sitemap.
Then, in March of 2020, Google announced plans to officially move all websites over to mobile-first indexing in September.
Is your site optimized for mobile-first indexing?
For this step, you need to make sure of a few things:
When all else fails, great content continues to win; so if you still have some doubts about SEO performance, closely examine the content on your site and have an honest conversation about whether or not it meets the needs of your audience.
- Make sure that Googlebot can access and render your content.
- Make sure content is the same on desktop and mobile.
- Check your structured data.
- Follow Google’s recommendations.
- Stay on top of mobile errors.
The good news, then, is that you no longer have to worry about whether or not your site is being indexed on a mobile-first basis. In all likelihood, it already is. And if it’s not, it will be soon.
“We have the deadline…set for March. I think there are some technical details with the last sites that we are working out. So we can switch them over in an optimal way. But at some point, it will just be switched over. If that is still in March or maybe in April or maybe even ends up in May, I don’t know. But we are going to be switching all of these sites and if your site is ready then that will just happen then.”