The Lowdown on Google’s Mobile First Index (Part One)

It’s finally happening – Google is toying with a brand new mobile-first index.  Needless to say, this is the kind of thing you really cannot afford to overlook or ignore. The long and short of it being that when the new system is rolled out, it will mean that the SERP rankings in general will be assessed and awarded in accordance with the quality of the mobile content provided. And just for the record, the answer is yes – this will also apply to the listings displayed to desktop users.

In one sense, it represents a pretty radical overhaul and the first step toward total mobile focus from the world’s biggest online brands. But at the same time, it’s also something that we have all seen coming for a long time and so really shouldn’t come as any big surprise.

So with all of the above in mind, what follows is a brief overview of just a few of the most important questions you may have on what exactly to expect going forward:

What specifically is changing?

In the simplest of terms, Google has decided that the time has come to focus its attention on mobile web users, who now collectively account for the vast majority of overall web traffic. What this basically means is that the mobile version of the web is what Google now considers to be a primary version of the web. Which in turn means that when it comes to crawling websites and determining which sites and pages are featured most prominently, primary focus will be given to whether or not the sites and their content are mobile-friendly.

What about businesses with no mobile website?

For the time being at least, Google has said that this should be no cause for huge concern. “If you only have a desktop site, we’ll continue to index your desktop site just fine, even if we’re using a mobile user agent to view your site,” as they put it in their own words recently. Still, this made it abundantly clear that they would prefer pretty much every website out there to make efforts to build and operate high quality mobile websites, meaning that if it is something you are still to do, now may well be the time to put plans into action.

Is it a problem if my mobile website doesn’t have as much content as my desktop site?

In a word, possibly. Which is precisely why both Google and the vast majority of experts in general advise not to necessarily build separate desktop and mobile websites, but instead go with a responsive approach. This will basically mean that when your site is crawled either in its desktop or mobile form, the crawlers will come across exactly the same content either way.

Stay tuned for the second part of our post outlining Google’s mobile-first index…

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