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Google to Switch to Mobile-First Index

The rise of mobile continues!

Google has announced that it will be switching to a mobile-first index, meaning that their primary index will become mobile where it had always been desktop. (This doesn’t mean that they will get rid of the desktop index, but just place its priority behind the mobile index.) In other words, the mobile version of your website will become more important for SEO than the desktop version. This is a natural shift as mobile devices begin to outnumber desktop, and it’s something that Google has been hinting at for a while. There’s no date in place, just a confirmation that it will happen, and likely soon.

If you are wondering what the index is and how this all works, please refer to my previous post on the subject: How Does Google Search Work?

Now for the important part: How does this affect you? That depends on the type of website that concerns you:

  • Responsive sites – This update will have virtually no effect other than weeding out some of your less mobile friendly competition. The mobile index website is almost identical to the desktop version, so you have nothing to worry about.
  • Mobile sites – Usually, there are pretty major differences between the mobile site and the desktop site. The mobile site is often a simplified version of the desktop site. This may be problematic going forward as the mobile-first index will only see what a mobile device would see. If you have pages that are not available on the mobile site, or portions of content removed for your mobile visitors, you will not be able to serve those pages in the search results or rank for keywords in the content that only shows up for desktop users.
  • Not responsive and no mobile site – This is a huge problem. Google has already been favoring websites that format well on mobile devices in their search results, so you probably have already been seen a reduction in your mobile traffic. This will accelerate that reduction until you only have a trickle of mobile traffic coming to your website or none at all. If you want to stay relevant online, you need to embrace mobile!

This news confirms what we at Points Group have been preaching all along: Go responsive!