If you use the Google search console you may have started receiving emails that go something like this:
Subject: Mobile-first indexing enabled
Dear Search Console user,
We are updating one or more of your properties as part of the mobile-first initiative. This means that you may see more traffic in your logs for those properties from Googlebot Smartphone. You may also see that snippets in Google Search results are now generated from the mobile version of your content.
The following properties are being updated (list limited to 20 properties):
Google’s mobile-first initiative announced March 26, 2018 has a few key initiatives summed up at the end of their blog post:
Mobile-indexing is rolling out more broadly. Being indexed this way has >no ranking advantage and operates independently from our mobile->friendly assessment.
Having mobile-friendly content is still helpful for those looking at ways >to perform better in mobile search results.
Having fast-loading content is still helpful for those looking at ways to >perform better for mobile and desktop users.
As always, ranking uses many factors. We may show content to users >that’s not mobile-friendly or that is slow loading if our many other signals >determine it is the most relevant content to show.
When you see the e-mail subject arrive in your inbox it sounds like Google is ditching the desktop and you’re screwed SEO-wise if you don’t have a mobile site. That’s not the case - yet. But Google is hinting throughout the article a reality that many people might be failing to realize. Most people are finding stuff they need through mobile first. Here’s the key sentence:
Mobile-first indexing means that we’ll use the mobile version of the page > for indexing and ranking, to better help our – primarily mobile – users find > what they’re looking for.
Let us ENHANCE
While they say in the blog post that indexing your site as a mobile view won’t impact its page rank, they do make it very clear that mobile-friendly sites do have PageRank preference when it comes to mobile search, and it has been like that since 2015.
Google’s search userbase is primarily mobile, and mobile-friendly websites receive preference in mobile search results. You probably should consider making your website mobile friendly - like three years ago. It’s never too late to get started!
Thankfully google also provides many tools for you to see how mobile-friendly Google thinks your website is. If you’re familiar with the Google search console this won’t be news to you. If not, and you have a website that you want people to find in the future now it the time to get acquainted.
After the whole song and dance of getting access to your search console profile, you can find a “Mobile Usability” button in the “Enhancements” dropdown on the left.
This is your portal to learning more about how Google “sees” your website from the view of a mobile user. Pages deemed having too many errors or not mobile friendly enough will be unapologetically left to float off into the great internet abyss where nobody will ever see your link again.
The more mobile-friendly pages in this list the better off you’ll be in this new mobile-first future. Not because Google is making any significant changes but because people’s habits are changing. You can see in the chart below as mobile-friendly pages are added to my website the impression count began to increase. I hope to continue that trend, and so most of my website is designed around the mobile user’s experience.
Clicking on any of the detail items will show you a list of valid links, links that contain errors, or any other link status types.
Clicking on any of your links will allow you to see a mobile test report that even previews how your website looks to Google’s mobile index bot.
While Google’s “mobile-first initiative” seems scary at first it doesn’t involve any major impending changes to search index ranking. Just how Google “reads” the pages of your site for their index. But these changes are indicatives of how people are using mobile primarily as the way to find things they need. And if they can’t see you on mobile then you may never be seen! Thankfully the tools to find out if you’re ready are freely available. Check out the Google search console with your own website.