Mobility

Google's move to mobile-first indexing means solid mobile development is a necessity

As mobile searches overshadow desktop searches, Google's indexing and ranking system will now rely on the mobile version of a company's website.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • There are now more searches being done through mobile devices than desktop PCs, prompting the move to mobile first indexing.
  • A substantial amount of websites have already been moved to mobile-first indexing

Google officially announced that it was migrating all websites to mobile-first indexing, meaning their indexing and ranking system will now use the mobile version of a website as opposed to the desktop version, the firm announced in a press release.

The move comes in response to the rise in Google searches on mobile devices, the release said. Mobile searches now far exceed desktop searches, and for more than a year Google has been experimenting with mobile-first indexing.

"To recap, our crawling, indexing, and ranking systems have typically used the desktop version of a page's content, which may cause issues for mobile searchers when that version is vastly different from the mobile version," Google noted in the release. "Mobile-first indexing means that we'll use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help our - primarily mobile - users find what they're looking for."

Mobile-first indexing allows Google to provide people searching for things with websites that are specifically optimized for the platform they are searching on. Many website now have mobile-friendly, responsive versions of their website that are tailored for smartphones or tablets.

SEE: Mobile device computing policy (Tech Pro Research)

In its press release, Google said that while the change will not affect rankings, developers and businesses are encouraged to make their websites more mobile-friendly.

Companies in all industries should take this change seriously, as their ranking in the search engine could directly impact their business. Google also announced in 2016 that it was prioritizing sites built with the open source Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) in mobile search, so that may be a good place to start in developing a mobile strategy.

Google has already notified some businesses and websites of the changes through their Search Console, the release noted. Even though rankings will not be affected, since 2015 Google has included a website's mobile-friendliness into its index, and mobile-friendly websites do perform better in searches on mobile devices. Websites that load faster also do better in Google's rankings.

"Mobile-first indexing is about how we gather content, not about how content is ranked. Content gathered by mobile-first indexing has no ranking advantage over mobile content that's not yet gathered this way or desktop content," the released noted. "Moreover, if you only have desktop content, you will continue to be represented in our index."

Also see

mobileweb.jpg
Image: iStockphoto/scyther5

About Jonathan Greig

Jonathan Greig is a freelance journalist based in New York City. He recently returned to the United States after reporting from South Africa, Jordan, and Cambodia since 2013.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox