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What is the New Google Mobile-First Index And What Do I Need to Do?

06 January 2017 16:25

Google are making changes to their search listing by using a new 'mobile-first index'. This means that the rankings of websites on the listings will be based primarily on the mobile version of their content. The new index will change the listings that are shown to both mobile and desktop users. Google wants their search index and results to show content that is most useful for the majority of users and most searches are now being performed on mobile devices.

What is a Search Engine Index?

A search engine index is a collection of pages and documents that a search engine has found by crawling the web with search engine spiders. It is the search engine index that gives you the results for searches. Without a search engine index, the search engine would take a longer time to find results for search queries. 

How will the Mobile-First Index change the rankings?

We are being told that the rankings won't change too much. However, if there is a mobile website that has considerably less content compared to its desktop version, its ranking will be lower because Google will be using the mobile version first before the desktop. A quote from Google's blog post, "Our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site", tells us that content not deemed mobile friendly will not rank as well. This is one of the reasons why Google recommends that you upgrade to a responsive website so that there won't be a need for multiple websites and all of the content will be the same across all devices.

When will the changes come into place?

There were announcements from Google back in November that they're testing the new mobile-first index. Google have said they will announce on their blog when they're pushing the changes out which is expected to be in the near future. 

How can you keep, or even raise your Google search ranking with the new changes?

Google's blog post on Mobile-first Indexing has a lot of information on what you should change or even if you need to change anything at all. One of the main points made is; "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 shows that Google is encouraging everyone to upgrade to a responsive website and that they are likely to favour websites where the content is the same on both mobile and desktop as this gives the best experience for the end user. Google also recommends that you add structured data to your mobile website but you should avoid adding tags that aren't relevant to the content. 

Google also recommends that you add structured data to your mobile website but you should avoid adding tags that aren't relevant to the content. If you would like to learn more about structured data and just how important it is, check out this blog post. If you want to learn how to easily add structured data to your iPages website, have a look at our support pages.

"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." - Google's blog post on Mobile-first Indexing

iPages offers a design solution for your website so that your content will stay consistent, responsive, dynamic and look great on all different screen sizes. We have designed many responsive websites so if you're interested in or have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us