While the mobile-first index is not likely to roll out until next year, it’s never too early to start preparing for such a massive change to Google’s index.
Illyes’ advice is as follows:
“Wanna prepare for the mobile first index? Go to your or your clients’ mobile sites and look for noindex directives and n1 redirects.”
How will this help you prepare? First of all, the presence of a noindex tag will prevent web pages from being indexed altogether. If you or your clients have separate mobile and desktop web pages, make sure they are both being indexed.
Of course, noindex tags are not inherently bad, and there are times in which they should be used. If there are pages on a site that you do not want found by search engines, then it would be appropriate to use a noindex tag on them.
If you are tracking goal completions in Google Analytics based on how many people land on a “thank you” page, then it would make sense to noindex that page to prevent false goal completions.
That’s just one of many examples out there. Bottom line is – if you want a page to be found by search engines, then it better not have a noindex tag.
N1 redirects are the same as faulty redirects, which occur when a user is directed to a page they didn’t intend to visit.
When a site has both desktop and mobile pages, site owners may adopt the practice of redirecting all mobile traffic over to the mobile home page. That means if someone tried to view a blog article on their mobile device, they will be redirected to the home page instead – a page they didn’t intend to visit.
What site owners should do is redirect mobile traffic to the equivalent mobile web page. Not only does this improve the user experience, but it will ensure mobile content gets appropriately indexed once the mobile-first index rolls out.
If you want to get a head start on preparing for the mobile-first index, noindex tags and faulty redirects are two things you should be watching out for.