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Mobile First indexing

Google’s preference for mobile websites | Stand: Nov. 2022
reading time: 4 minutes

Google backs on Mobile First. It’s all over town for long. That was an accident waiting to happen! Instead of looking at the desktop version of a page like so far, Google decides on the basis of the mobile version whether and on which place a website is displayed on the search results page (SERP).

This was finally announced by Google. The step is justified by the simple fact that meanwhile more search queries are entered via mobile devices than on desktop computers.

What does this mean for your website? The seo-nerd knows!

The most important FAQ about the new Mobile First indexing

The indexing begins once your website is crawled. In simple words: Google takes all content of your page, assigns meaning to these contents and makes them accessible to the algorithm. In this way the algorithm can check if the meaning / content of your page matches a search query. In other words: the indexing is very important for search engines. The changeover to Mobile First is anything else than a chicken feed. Why you probably still have no fear of sweating, the following question-answer-dance clarifies.

Will the desktop version become redundant because of Mobile First?

Asked this way: no! However, sheer desktop version will have a rough ride in the foreseeable future. According the announcement Google is currently still experimenting with the new prioritization of mobile sites, but everything sounds as if the strategy change is a done deal. There is no mention of a return to desktop first at any point in the announcement. The phrasing „experiment“ of course might be a backdoor. For a still unknown period of transition there will be a desktop index as well as a mobile index. Google wants to try both versions on users and thus slowly approach the venture Mobile-First. In the long run, however, there will be only the mobile index.

… and if I don’t have a mobile page?

This is no problem, Google has now announced. If there is no mobile version, the desktop version is simply crawled and indexed, as before. However, you should keep in mind that the desktop index will be updated less frequently in the future.

What has to be regarded in mobile versions with own URL?

If the contents of both versions match each other, there will be no problem in the future. If your mobile version has less content than the desktop version (which is made for page speed reasons), you might lose valuable keyword indexing. Google will not check, if there is another version of this page with more content. The search engine will instead comply with the mobile version.

What’s the change for responsive design websites though Mobile First?

Responsive design websites will be on the winning side of Google’s Mobile First strategy. In responsive design, the design adapts to the respective device, along with all its contents. No content is lost. Google indexes and therefore takes into account everything that has been set on these pages. If you already have a responsive design page, there is no need for action.

What is with hidden expandable contents?

To date, Google has not treated content that is hidden in collapsible boxes or similar, for design reasons, like directly visible content. This could change with Mobile First indexing. According to Google’s Gary Illyes, the Group is at least currently assessing whether these elements will be weighted more heavily in the future. The usability and clarity of mobile websites would certainly be beneficial.

Will backlinks become less important because of Mobile First?

This assumption is obvious, since in the mobile world backlinks play a much smaller role. Finally, users on mobile devices rarely have a desire to jump back and forth between different pages. Since the whole is currently still called an “experiment, one will certainly have to wait. Finally, Google must also gain experience on how the index change affects the rankingsignal of backlinks.

Mobile First might pave the way for AI-first

Much of the evidence suggests that Mobile First is merely the beginning of a strategy that focuses on artificial intelligence (AI). Interestingly, it was even Google’s CEO, Sundar Pinchai, who drew attention on it in October 2016. Paychai from “Mobile First to AI First” spoke at a launch event, at which new smartphones should be introduced. Instead of talk about the hardware of the company, the Google boss painted the beautiful new world of voice search.

Intelligent voice assistants like Amazons Alexa, Apple’s Siri or Cortana from Microsoft are already traded as the “Next Big Thing” of the scene. With Google, this next major thing simply means “assistant”. Pinchai believes – and he is not alone – that these voice assistants could even replace the smartphone in the medium term. Their charm is, above all, that they are accessible to users at any time. It is enough to say “Ok Google” (or “Alexa”). Already the assistant wakes up and looks for us. Then he reads the result or plays the music we want to hear. Further applications are already under development.

In this beautiful new world of voice assistants, websites will have to become more service providers than ever before, to meet the needs of users. The move to Mobile First strategy in indexing is the basis for this. It forces web page operators to pay more attention to long-tail keywords. Typically, they are more likely to be involved in spoken than in typed search queries that.

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