Prepare Your Website For Mobile-First Indexing

Google has declared a new deadline for mobile first-indexing for all websites. Here are mobile-first indexing practices to prepare your website before the switch.

Kristel Nisda
SEO Specialist

On March 2021 is the deadline set by Google for mobile first-indexing for all Google websites. Earlier, Google had intended to take place on the final transition for both websites in September 2020 but due to the uncertainty about this period, as well as several possible problems with mobile-first index, made Google Webmasters re-evaluate the roll-out deadline.

Early in March, Google revealed that the deadline for all websites to switch to mobile-first indexing would be September 2020. Around the same period, Google said, "To simplify, we're going to switch to mobile-first indexing for all websites beginning in September 2020.

However, as the pandemic hit the world, Google moved the date, stating "We realise that in such unpredictable days, it's not always possible to concentrate on work as before, so we've agreed to extend the deadline to the end of March 2021." 

With more users than ever before accessing the internet through smartphones, having a mobile version of a page has become the answer to web content publishers. Google has been focusing on improving the search algorithm to rank websites based on their mobile versions. It began to play with this in 2016.

but what does mobile-first indexing mean?

Mobile-first indexing implies that Google mainly uses the mobile version of the page or content for indexing and search ranking. Originally, the index used the desktop version of a page 's content when assessing a page 's relevance to a user's query. 

What if I don't have a mobile website, will Google still indexed my Website?

Yes. If you don't have a mobile website, the index will still use the desktop version of the page. However, the absence of the mobile-friendly can harm the overall site's rankings in desktop search as well as mobile search results, so a website with a better mobile experience may probably earn a boost in rankings in comparison to mobile-friendly websites.

Note: Whether your website is ready or not, it will still be switched to mobile-first indexing.

check the status of your website for mobile-first indexing in search console

1. Open URL Inspect Tool

If you see the "Google Smartphone" label in this field, your site has been switched to mobile-first indexing. If you see the "Googlebot Desktop" label, it's still waiting. 

Mobile First-Indexing Status


2. Check for Google Search Console notifications email.

Searched for "Mobile-first indexing enabled" in your inbox, you may find an email from the Google Search Console Team that informs you that your site has been switched to Mobile-first.

If you confirmed that your website has not yet moved to Mobile-First Indexing, you need to continue reading this the next step. 

how to prepare for mobile-indexing

If you have a site that is not yet enabled to Mobile-First Indexing, Google has listed some of the things that you need to look into, which could prevent the site from being immediately converted to mobile-first indexing.

Here's a rundown of what Google has posted, but check out Google's article for more details:

Use the same Robots meta tags on the mobile website

You should use the same robot meta tags on your mobile website as on your desktop website. If you use different robot meta tags on your mobile version (example: noindex or nofollow), Google will fail to index or follow links on your page when your site is moved to mobile-first indexing.

Follow Lazy-loading best practices 

Lazy-loading is more common on a mobile device than on a desktop, particularly for loading images and videos. Don't action lazy-loading as your primary content based on user interactions such as swiping, tapping, or typing, as Googlebot does not trigger these user interactions.

To ensure that Googlebot sees all content on your website, make sure your lazy loading code loads all content once it is visible in the viewport. A few examples of how you should achieve this here.

Be aware and be careful of what you block

Some of the resources on the mobile version have different URLs than on the desktop version, in some case they are hosted on separate hosts. If you want Google to crawl your URLs, make sure you do not disallow them in your robots.txt

Let Googlebot crawl your resources and make sure you are not blocking the URL with a disallow directive. 

For example, blocking the CSS files or JavaScripts files (urls) that holds your website layout styles, prevents Googlebot from rendering your pages correctly, which can be damaging to the search ranking of your pages. Make sure that you do not restrict crawling of urls with your robots.txt

Make sure the primary content is the same on desktop and mobile version

When your mobile website contains fewer content than your desktop website, you can improve your mobile version in such a manner that its primary content is similar and good as to your desktop version. Almost all indexing on your site comes from the mobile website. If you have less content, you may experience any traffic decline as your site is activated for mobile-first indexing, and Google won't gather as much information from your page as before.

Be sure your mobile version includes all the descriptive headings, as Google won't be able to fully understand your page. Include, high-quality, useful material on your desktop website, such include text, videos and photos.

Make sure to use the same metadata on both versions of your website

Make sure that the descriptive title and meta description are the same for all versions of the web.

Make sure that the images on your mobile site follow the best practices. 

  • Provide high-quality pictures. Do not use photos that are too tiny or have poor quality on your mobile website.
  • Use the supported image format. 
  • Use the same descriptive titles, captions, file names and alt text that are relevant to the images on the mobile site as you have on the desktop site. A good practice is as follow:

            <img src="cake.jpg" alt="A chocolate cake"> 

Different image URLs between desktop and mobile version

If your website uses different image URLs for your desktop and mobile website, you may notice a temporary loss in image traffic as your site is transitioning to mobile-first indexing. It is because the image URLs on the web site are new to Google indexing.

To stop a temporary traffic drop, use the same image URLs for all versions of the site. If you do not mind temporary image traffic loss you do not need to take any action.

Video markup

If the desktop version uses the structured data of schema.org's "VideoObject" to describe videos, make sure that the mobile version still contains VideoObject with similar information. Use the supported format for your videos and place the videos in the supported tags. Videos are identified in the page by the inclusion of an HTML attribute, e.g. < video >, < embed >, or < object >.

Video placement

Place the video in an easy-to-find location on the website when displayed on a mobile device.

Used the same Structured data, but avoid adding unnecessary structured data

For instance, if you have used a Local Business Schema on your desktop website, please make sure that it is included on your mobile website. Make sure that all urls are correct as well, and add the structured data only if relevant to the page content.

If you are not sure what adjustments need to be made on your mobile website or whether they will have an impact on the entire process, please contact the experts. Our website design company has a team of excerpts that you take into account any single step.

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