Published: Tue, March 27, 2018
Science | By Joan Schultz

Google Search to Use Mobile Versions of Sites for Indexing

Google Search to Use Mobile Versions of Sites for Indexing

The rollout is only going to affect a limited number of the most standards-compliant sites at first, and will roll out more widely and begin branching out to sites that stick less strictly to Google's mobile-friendly guidelines in the near future. After the shift, Google will show the mobile version of the site's pages in its Search results and in the Google cached pages. In the following years, Google started giving a search ranking boost to sites with mobile versions, but only in Google Search Mobile, leaving its Desktop Search unaltered.

Google has officially concluded the testing phase for mobile-first indexing in its search service, and is now starting to roll out the new indexing method to some sites that the search giant thinks have done a particularly good job in following its established best practices for a mobile-friendly page.

Google did say it will notify webmasters/site owners that their sites are migrated to the mobile-first indexing process via messages in the Google Search Console. When a site has different versions for desktop and mobile browsers - and in particular when the mobile version is an impoverished version of the desktop site - mobile users can often be led to a page with less or worse content than the search result would have had them believe.

Mobile-friendliness has always been one of the many factors in determining how a site is ranked, but it's not the only factor.

This change means Google will "use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking" on Google Search Mobile.

According to Google, "Mobile-first indexing is about how we gather content, not about how content is ranked".

But Google has also warned that having a mobile-friendly version of the original desktop site is not enough. For example, Google doesn't rule out showing desktop sites on mobile if the respective sites contain the best answer to a search query or if the desktop pages are much faster-loading than other (poorly made) mobile-friendly sites.

However, Google has begun to prioritize mobile sites in several ways. This means when they view the mobile version of the same webpage, the information might not be in the same place, or visible at all. "If you only have desktop content, you will continue to be represented in our index", assures the Google announcement.

Like this: