Google announced today that it now uses mobile first indexing for over half of the webpages displayed in search results globally. An important milestone in Google's moves to favor mobile sites across desktop pages in search results.
The plans for the project have been in work for years.
The company had first detailed its efforts on mobile first indexing back in 2016, explaining the impact of how the search index works. It said that it would be useful to use the mobile version of a site's content to index the pages, as well as understand the structured data and view extracts from the site in Google search results.
Its justification behind the change is simple: most people today search Google from a mobile device, not a desktop computer. But Google's network ranking systems were originally built for the desktop. They still usually look at the desktop version of the page's content to determine the relevance of the user.
This obviously causes problems when the desktop and mobile site are not synchronized.
Before responsive web design became more common, many page owners built their own, simpler and sometimes less informative version of their website for their mobile web visitors. These users may have been guided to the site due to Google Search. But once there they could not find what they were looking for because it was only available on the desktop version of the website.
Google said in December 201
Earlier this year, Google announced that it had officially rolled out its "mobile first" indexing of the Web, after one and a half years of testing and experimentation. At that time, it said that it should first move across the sites that already follow the best practices for mobile-first indexing. It also noted that it would favor the site's own mobile version of its website over Google's fast loaded AMP pages.
Changed sites will be notified via a message in Search Console and then see increased visits from the smartphone version of Googlebot, which searches the mobile version of their site. Website owners can also check their server logs as they can track the increased requests from Googlebot Smartphone.
Google also offers a URL inspection tool which site owners can use to check how a website URL – like the website – was last crawled and indexed.
Google notes today that websites that do not use sound web design see two common issues when Google tries to move them over to mobile-first indexing.
Some people do not use structured data on their mobile websites, even if they use it on the desktop. This is important because it helps Google understand the site's content and makes it possible to highlight the content of the page in search results, through its "more advanced" features like rich results, Knowledge Graph results, improved search results, carousels and more – basically anytime You'll see more engaging search results that offer more than just a list of blue links.
The company also said that some mobile sites lacked captions for photos, making Google more difficult to understand the content of the image. 19659002] When the first wave of sites was moved over, Google said that the mobile-friendly index would not directly affect how content was ranked, but it said that a site's mobile-friendly content would help it perform better "in mobile search results. Mobile friendliness has long been one of many factors to determine how a website is ranked, but it's not the only thing.
Google did not say what it would do for sites that are never properly updated for mobile networks, but it seems as if their ranking at some point could be affected.