Mobile Indexing

Are You Ready For Google’s Mobile-First Indexing In March 2021?

This new year may seem stranger than most, but along with everything else, there are a number of changes in the SEO and digital marketing arena you need to be aware of and ready for in 2021. Among them is mobile-first indexing from Google, which was postponed for six months from September 2020, having initially been enabled in July 2019. Although the search giant first began experimenting in this area even earlier, in 2016.

Mobile-first indexing essentially means that Google mainly uses the mobile version of your website’s content to index and rank it, with the overarching aim of creating identical experiences for on-the-go and static users. However, they access your website with similar headings, content, meta tags and structured data on desktop and on the move.

What will happen from March this year is that Google will start to drop desktop-only websites from its index – as announced last summer in Las Vegas at leading search and social media conference and expo Pubcon. The change will mean that the search giant will not index any content you have on desktop which is not also available on mobile.

It’s not a case of there being a separate mobile-first index – rather, Google primarily uses the mobile version of your site to rank and index it. If you have both mobile and desktop URLs, Google shows the former to mobile surfers and the other version to PC users. However, it is the mobile one which will be indexed.

As a website owner, you are not able to affect the indexing process. Equally, mobile-first is not something you can opt out of. Google will notify webmasters via Search Console when it deems a site is ready for mobile-first indexing and this is something that’s now applied to websites launched post-July 2019 by default.

What issues do I need to watch out for?

Here are some of the things the search engine says you must look out for to ensure mobile-first indexing:

  • Mismatch between mobile and desktop

You have to show that the mobile and desktop versions of your website share the same main content.

  • Slow-loading mobile content

Look out for this and put it right if primary content is taking too long to load on mobile. ‘Primary content’, according to Google, refers to:

Content you want to rank with, or the reason for users to come to your site.

  • Follow best practice for images and video

Make sure all imagery you use is fully optimised for mobile and is the same as what’s included on your desktop site to avoid ranking disruption. You also need to ensure that structured data matches up on both and that users can access imagery and film clips on the mobile and desktop versions of your site with equal ease.

  • Blocked mobile assets

This is about not having different URLs to call up things like images and videos, but also JavaScript, CSS, fonts and the like. URLs should be the same for mobile and desktop – again, this avoids a rankings dip.

Talk to us at Front Page

At Front Page Advantage, we’re keenly aware of the importance of being mobile-friendly, not least for the purposes of being indexed with the likes of Google. Give us a call for a chat today and we’ll talk through how to optimise your website so that you don’t miss out.