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Google's new mobile-first indexing: Say good bye to Desktop SEO

Google mobile-first indexing just rolled out recently, during the tail end of the year 2016. This improvement is going to change the way that your site gets ranked in the search engine results pages (SERPs). At this juncture, it is a thing of surprise that many online publishers and bloggers are yet to have a proper understanding about this current trend and change in Google system if indexing. If you are still of them, then this post will be helpful to you. Here are few things you need to know about the Google mobile-first index so that you can optimize your website accordingly.

Google mobile first indexing

What is the Google mobile-first index?

Before now, you might already have the knowledge that Google crawls your site to add pages to its index. The process is done this way, Google uses a bot to crawl around your site like a real visitor and follows links on your pages.

Prior to this recent development (Google mobile first indexing), Google bot normally crawl your site as a desktop user. But now, Google bot will crawl your site as a mobile user. That is a distinction that is going to bring a very big difference.

The first thing you should note is that, your website might present a completely different display to mobile users and to desktop users. In some cases, links that appear on the desktop version of your site might not appear on the mobile version. This act alone is bad because the Googlebot cannot follow links that are not there. As a result, your site might take a hit and be altered in the SERPs.

You should also bear in mind that Google uses a number of ranking signals to determine the position your site should land in the results list. If the bot finds that your site is not favourable to mobile users or loads very slowly, you are definitely going to lose rank.

With this fact, my conclusion and recommendation is that when performing search engine optimization (SEO) for your site, you should focus your optimization on your mobile audience. That should be your prime directive henceforth.

Why is Google using a mobile-first index?

I know you might be wondering why Google is switching to a mobile-first index, well the answer is simple. Mobile is everything. That is the short answer, almost every user have switched to mobile device compared to desktop that was formerly in vogue. In addition to that, Google says that there are more mobile searches than desktop searches. So it makes perfect sense that its bot should crawl pages as a mobile user.

What if you don’t have a mobile site?

This should be a big question, because If you don’t have a responsive website, then the Google mobile-first indexing system is definitely going to be a nightmare:  You will be asking yourself “What’s going to happen to my site?” You cannot be at ease. The answer to your big question is this. The Googlebot will crawl the desktop version of your site just fine, even though it is using a mobile user agent. That means your site can still be indexed.

Though your site can still get indexed, but you should definitely switch over to a responsive template. In this day and age, anyone who is serious about making a statement online needs a website that is responsive and adapts to a mobile platform.

What are the effects of Google mobile-first indexing on expandable content?

There is a new development. Putting content under a read more link used to result in that content not getting indexed by Google. With this mobile first index, things have changed positively.

According to Google’s Gary Illyes, content hidden in tabs and accordions will have the same weight as content that is plainly displayed on the page. Google understands that expandable content makes much more sense on a mobile platform because of limited screen real estate. That’ is why Google will not punish webmasters who take advantage of those design features. This is a big win for user experience and SEO! I am indeed happy about this.

Will the Google mobile-first indexing change rankings significantly?

The answer to this big question is definitely a NO. As is usually the case, though, there is a caveat. Both Illyes and Paul Haahr, said that mobile-first indexing should not result in a significant change in site rankings. They added that it is too early to tell, though. Certainly, if your site is not mobile-friendly, you should not expect it to rank well for certain keywords.

When does the mobile-first indexing begin?

Google has already started rolling out the mobile-first crawler. However, it will take months before full implementation is complete. Unfortunately, Google will never give a specific date about when the rollout will be completed. This is because the company is still testing the code.

However, Google made it known that it will roll out more and more searchers over time, as it gains confidence that the mobile user agent crawl is working well.

How to have an idea of what the mobile-first Google crawler sees?

I know you might be wondering about how your site appears to the Googlebot that uses a mobile user agent. Fortunately, you don’t have to speculate, because you can easily have a view of it. Just head over to the Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmasters) and click on the “crawl” option on the left-hand sidebar. In the menu that appears, click on “Fetch as Google.”

The screen that appears gives you the opportunity to crawl your site as the Googlebot and see what it sees. To see it as a Googlebot using a mobile user agent, you wil need to select “mobile smartphone” from the drop-down menu next to the “Fetch” button.

Click the “Fetch and Render” button and the tool will show you exactly what the crawler sees as it touches your website. That will give you a good idea about how mobile-friendly your site is.

Will there be two indexes from now on?

Eventually, Google will move to only one index. Unsurprisingly, that will be the mobile index. During the rollout period, though, there will be two indexes -- the mobile index and the desktop index. A small subset of users will see results from the mobile index, while other users see results from the desktop index. The reality is that people will have no idea which index they are seeing results from.

As Google becomes more confident with the Google's mobile-first index results, the company will slowly phase out the desktop index. This will make you and me to have further evidence that mobile is everything. Share this information with your friends, subscribe to our newsletters and follow us on Facebook for trending Blogging, SEO and Tech gist around the globe.
Google's new mobile-first indexing: Say good bye to Desktop SEO Reviewed by Chibuzor Aguwa on 4:50:00 AM Rating: 5


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