What is Mobile-First Indexing and What Does It Mean for SEO?

January 23, 2018

What is Mobile-First Indexing and What Does It Mean for SEO?

As the effort to make the web more mobile-friendly continues to gain momentum, Google has done its best to update search engine factors with things like mobile-first indexing. Source: moz.com.

So, what is mobile-first indexing? At its core, mobile-first indexing means that when Google indexes your website, the mobile version is not only given higher priority, but is also used as a starting point in how your site's ranking is determined. It is important to note that while this is called “mobile-first,” we do not mean “mobile-only” – websites without mobile-friendly versions can still have their desktop versions included in the index. Knowing this, your site’s lack of a mobile-friendly experience could negatively impact your site’s rankings. It is also important to keep in mind that “mobile-first” means the mobile version of your website will be considered the primary version. Thus, you should be optimizing your content for mobile and using responsive design.

How do I make my website mobile-friendly? First things first, if your desktop and mobile versions are identical, make sure your website is responsive, prioritize page speed and load time, and optimize images and other dynamic content. If your mobile website is separate, be sure to check the below:

1. Content

High-quality content is still king, including text, videos and images. Don’t forget alt-tags so images and videos are crawlable and indexable!

2. Structured Data

If you’re using structured data markup on the desktop version of your site, you should be doing the same on mobile – but keep it relevant.

3. Metadata

Titles and meta descriptions should be equivalent, but not identical, using the same information and relevant keywords. Just be sure to optimize titles for shorter character counts.

4. XML and Media Sitemaps

Links to sitemaps should be accessible on your website’s mobile version, as well as robots.txt, privacy policy pages and on-page meta-robots tags.

5. Search Console Verification

You may have already verified your desktop site in the Search Console, but also be sure to add and verify the mobile version.