Google is making the first step toward mobile-first indexing, a story we reported on last month, by testing a mobile-first search index.
Going forward, Google’s index will primarily be crawling the mobile version of a site’s content to learn how it should be indexed in search.
This is a considerable shift away from Google’s typical indexing practices, which involves crawling the desktop versions of web pages and indexing them in both mobile and desktop search results.
Google illustrates the main issues with following the status quo:
”This can cause issues when the mobile page has less content than the desktop page because our algorithms are not evaluating the actual page that is seen by a mobile searcher.”
While Google’s index will now be constructed of mobile documents, the company promises it will continue to deliver a great search experience no matter what device they’re using.
What’s currently being referred to as an “experiment” is being carefully rolled out on a small scale over the next few months. After that time, Google will ramp up the experiment only when the company is satisfied it is providing the best search experience for everyone.
Here are some quick tips from Google regarding this change:
- If you have a responsive site with identical content across mobile and desktop, you shouldn’t have to change anything.
- If you have a site where the primary content and markup is not identical across mobile and desktop, you should consider making some changes to your site.
- Make sure to serve structured markup for both the desktop and mobile version.
- Google recommends using the Structured Data Testing Tool to verify the equivalence of 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.
- If you are a site owner who has only verified their desktop site in Search Console, please add and verify your mobile version.
- If you only have a desktop site, Google will continue to index your desktop site just fine.
- If you are building a mobile version of your site, do not launch it until it’s ready. Google says: “a functional desktop-oriented site can be better than a broken or incomplete mobile version of the site.”