Google’s relatively new mandate of mobile-first indexing has caused a bit of panic among the SEO community. The changes went into effect early in 2018 and there is still plenty of confusion and misinformation out there.
What is mobile-first indexing?
Essentially, it is Google altering their search method to crawl sites in a different order. In the past, whenever a website existed in both desktop and mobile forms, the search algorithm would focus on the desktop site. This occasionally caused problems if the two sites included differing content, as someone searching on their phone might get results from a desktop site but then be directed to the mobile site and be unable to find the info. Because of the ever-increasing importance of mobile searches, which make up at least 60% of all online searches, they are now going to determine their results based on what they find on the mobile site instead.
What does this mean for my ranking?
Rankings are not affected by the change to mobile-first indexing. If your content has the quality and relevance to achieve page one status that won’t change, as long as that content is equally available on the mobile version.
Who will it affect?
Contrary to popular fears, a relatively small percentage of sites will actually notice any difference. Websites that only exist in a single version will be unaffected, as will dual-version sites that feature identical content. It is really only sites that currently run a lighter mobile version with less content that will need to adapt. There are also some signs that point to an added emphasis on schema (detailed code that helps search engines locate data) in their search algorithm.
What is the solution?
If you are going to have both a desktop and mobile version of your site, perhaps to optimize the graphics and visuals differently, make sure that the content remains the same on both. It is also important that the content be formatted similarly and can be found in the same navigational order to avoid confusion.
The bottom line is that mobile-first indexing is not nearly the major overhaul many people perceive it to be. If your business is one of the few that could be impacted, you need only follow these few easy steps to ensure continuity and ongoing success.