For over a year, Google has continued to discuss its imminent transition to mobile-first indexation. In an endeavor to make its results more useful, it hopes to primarily use the mobile version of a website’s content to rank pages. When no mobile version is available, Google will continue to assess the desktop version of a website.
This change will finally reflect an ongoing change in user behavior: more Google searches taking place on mobile devices than on computers. However, Google’s ranking system still typically looks at the desktop version of a page’s content. Google’s decision to change to mobile-first indexation is to ensure that its index better serves this majority of searchers.
Mobile-First Indexation Best Practices
With their announcement, Google provided a number of recommendations to help webmasters prepare for the transition towards a mobile-first index. Below is a summary of the recommendations and how to test them now, prior to the complete roll out of mobile-first indexation that we can expect next year.
Consistency is key, if you have a responsive site or a dynamic serving site where the primary content and markup is equivalent across mobile and desktop, you shouldn’t have to change anything. This is because, in most instances with these types of sites, content and markup is identical for mobile and desktop users.
If a website is configured so that content and markup is different for mobile and desktop users, changes will need to be made. Structured markup needs to be included on both the desktop and mobile version of a website.
Google’s structured data testing tool be used to assess what markup is included on both the desktop and mobile versions of websites. If the mobile version contains less structured data this will need to be resolved, ensuring Google has all the information needed to best populate its results pages. Additionally, webmasters should ensure that only the necessary structured data is added to each page, markup that is not relevant to a specific page should be avoided.
Content also needs to be accessible on the mobile version of the website, otherwise the content will not be assessed for relevancy when indexed. If there is a difference in the quantity of content on the mobile and desktop versions of a website, Google is more likely to only view the mobile content. This is why opting for a responsive or dynamic site is a better option, because the mobile content is identical to that on the desktop version.
If separate URLs are used for the mobile version of a website, the way in which the relationship between these pages is indicated does not need to change. Annotations in both the HTML and sitemaps can remain the same.
If you need support to ensure that your website is ready for mobile-first indexation when it is rolled out entirely, you can view our full list of Search Engine Optimization services and get in touch with us today.