56% of all the web’s browsing now comes from our mobile devices. So predictably, Google recently announced that they have started testing a mobile-first index.

This is a big shift that would see Google starting with your mobile site, and then looking at the desktop site when there is no mobile.

“To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first. Although 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, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results,” said Google earlier this week.  

“Of course, while our index will be built from mobile documents, we’re going to continue to build a great search experience for all users, whether they come from mobile or desktop devices.

What Does Mobile-first Indexing Mean for Your Business?

This means big changes may be on the horizon, but they’re still testing.

The most obvious takeaway is that you need to make sure your mobile version of your site is as strong, complete, and optimized as your desktop site. But you don’t want to rush out and just publish a hurried effort. First of all, these changes are far from official, and again, still being tested. Also, Google has said a strong desktop is better than a bad mobile.

“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,” said Google.

“If you are building a mobile version of your site, keep in mind that a functional desktop-oriented site can be better than a broken or incomplete mobile version of the site. It’s better for you to build up your mobile site and launch it when ready.”

Of course, there are a lot of other reasons why you need a professional and responsive mobile site. So if this is the push you needed to make it happen, now is a great time to take a close look at your mobile site.

What Can I Do Right Now?

If you do have a mobile site, Google has released a series of actions you can take to prepare.

Basically, a responsive site or a dynamic serving site doesn’t require any changes. But , if your primary content and markup is different across mobile and desktop, they recommend you:

  • Make sure to serve structured markup for both the desktop and mobile version.
  • Sites can verify the equivalence of their structured markup across desktop and mobile by typing the URLs of both versions into the Structured Data Testing Tool and comparing the output.
  • When adding structured data to a mobile site, avoid adding large amounts of markup that isn’t relevant to the specific information content of each document.
  • Use the robots.txt testing tool to verify that your mobile version is accessible to Googlebot.
  • Sites do not have to make changes to their canonical links; we’ll continue to use these links as guides to serve the appropriate results to a user searching on desktop or mobile.

Ready to Talk About Your Mobile Site?

Google may be thinking mobile-first. So your business may have to as well. But your mobile site is just one of many factors that go into a complete SEO strategy.

Powered By Search is one of the most respected inbound marketing agencies in Canada, and we recently made PROFIT Magazine’s list of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies.

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About Ryan LeClaire

Ryan is the Lead Writer at Powered by Search.