What is Mobile First Indexing and why you should care.

Nov 25, 2016 | Mobile Indexing, Responsive Website Design, SEO, Website Design

Mobile First Indexing is coming but what does it mean?

Google is making a move. Google’s Gary Illyes announced at Pubcon in Las Vegas this past October that the company will be making a separate index for mobile sites. The game changer here is that this index will now become its primary index and desktop will move to second place. A scary concept for those of us that still haven’t transitioned our current sites to being mobile friendly. It’s fair to say Google is betting on mobile apps and websites as the wave of the future and they intend to out front. It’s a solid bet for two reasons: Google is already on top and second, mobility is already huge. The future is here.

Rule #1 – Don’t panic

Google has been pushing for this for some time. Since 2015 and the release of Mobilegeddon. It was a natural response to the evolution of searches and how people are using mobile devices search. Mobile overtook Desktop as the primary search platform

  • 80% of people use a smartphone
  • 67% of people use a desktop computer
  • 16% of people use a tablet
  • 57% of people use more than one type of device
  • 27% of people use a smartphone only
  • 14% of people use a desktop computer only
  • 40% of people search only on a smartphone

You can read the full article at Google right here.

Rule #2 – Don’t fight it.

Once again Google is telling site owners that Mobile is important to them. Really really important. So if you have been fighting the move or don’t understand that most people will find your company through a mobile device – you will loose relevancy to search results. So first of all make sure your site is responsive. This means that it looks good on every device.

The second part of this equation is speed. People are picky. You have seconds, literally, to get a new visitor on your site. And no they won’t read the text. Okay they might but in reality? People go for clear strong visual cues and easy navigation. And it’s got to be fast.


Percentage of users who drop a site after 3 seconds.


Percentage of people who use a smartphone.


Percentage of small business sites that are not responsive yet.

So what to do next? Get your site tested on Google – it’s in their interest and yours to have a fast site that delivers relevant content quickly. If your site in industry authority on a certain subject matter then make sure you get listed on Google News. Some things won’t change: clear navigation, original content, good site design.

If you already have a mobile responsive site then the theory is Mobile Indexing won’t have a huge effect on your rankings. Where it get’s tricky is if your organization had a mobile version of your site that does not carry all the same content at your Desktop version. You’ve done this for speed and for a better mobile experience but now you might lose ranking on content that Google’s mobile indexing can’t find. This could be a problem for larger sites but not for small business or brick and mortar businesses that hope to show up on Local Search results. Still, the move is on. Get mobile ready or get lost in the woods.

It will be interesting to see how this takes effect. For Google the core concept is always the same, good stuff first. What’s good depends on many different factors: speed, location, relevance, content. Front of the line though is being responsive – Mobility first. Don’t fight it.

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