Big changes are afoot at Google, as mobile sites will be indexed before desktop. This means mobile sites will take priority over desktop in the index ranking list.
What Does Google Switching To A Mobile First Index Mean?
It means that sites which publish mobile and desktop pages will have their mobile friendly pages prioritised in the SERP. This also, in theory at least, means that sites should be designed with a mobile device in mind first. And then optimised for desktop as a secondary, as this will become the secondary index.
This should be something which you have had in mind for a long while now anyway, as we have already seen mobile searches overtake desktop searches. What this change means is that the switch over is well and truly official in the eyes of Google.
Does A Mobile First Index Mean Any Extra Work For Marketers?
Not if you use responsive designs already. And you need to ensure you are including the SEO mobile-basics already:
- Optimise your load speed to cater for slow connections.
- Think about the reduced screen space available to users.
- Adapt your CTAs for somebody searching on mobile: Call Now, Email, Engage On Social buttons.
- Note that interstitials and pop-ups are devalued on mobile.
- Use AMP as it becomes more and more popular. Gary Illyes (at Google) has highlighted that AMP will become more important next year.
So What Is There To Think About?
No longer can your mobile pages just be a lighter version of your desktop page. It means that Google will be indexing mobile pages first so, it stands to reason, that the sites with the best mobile pages will take the best SERP ranking; not those with the best desktop content and mobile optimisation.
Put a different way, if your mobile page does include all your regular SEO optimisation that is on your desktop site, you could lose ranking as it's the mobile page which will be in the primary index.
As a reminder, a responsive design can be used to negate this question.
Also, links are less prevalent on the mobile web, so maybe there is an opportunity there to get your house in order and make your mobile pages more linked.
Will Desktop Index Be Removed?
No. Google will still index desktop pages but this will be secondary to mobile so will be on a delay in comparison.
Google have not said when exactly this will happen, but have said it will be announced in a blog post and (if they follow current form) they'll give plenty of notice. Though you should consider this is your first warning (October 2016) and start reacting accordingly.
Make Sure Your Wider Strategy Is Ready Too
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