Google has released more details on their upcoming Mobile First indexing change that will see the search engine rank the mobile versions of webpages. Currently, Google indexes the desktop version of a page, but will serve the mobile version for those who search from a mobile device. Many webmasters had plenty of questions about this change, especially as it pertains to ranking and indexing websites that currently serve different versions of the same content to desktop versus mobile searchers.
Google first announced the upcoming change last month, but with this new announcement from Doantam Phan, a Google Product Manager, it has now entered the testing phase within the mobile search results. And we now know a lot more details about the switch.
Why the change?
Google wants to make sure they are serving the best quality search results to their users. And with more than 50% of searches being made on mobile devices, the fact that Google ranks desktop was starting to become more of an issue.
This is due to the fact that some websites serve different content to mobile users – usually a shortened or abbreviated version of the content – while serving a more in depth and detailed version to desktop users. But since Google ranks based on the desktop site, this meant that some users on mobile could choose a search result that appears to have what they are looking for, yet cant find it when they visit the page, because the content was only available when viewed on a desktop.
This isn’t a surprise, as Gary Illyes from Google has mentioned multiple times that Google was working on a mobile only index.
Who Will Be Impacted?
While all sites will see their content ranked on the mobile version, there are two specific areas where site owners will likely need to make changes. The first is for sites that serve different content to mobile users compared to desktop users. The second is sites that have removed structured data markup from their mobile pages.
Otherwise, for those sites that serve identical content, such as with responsive and dynamic serving sites, shouldn’t need to make any changes at all.
M. Separate URL Mobile Sites
Sites that are currently utilizing m.example.com configurations, where mobile and desktop are on completely different pages and sometimes even sites, will be the ones most impacted my the new mobile first index. Because most m. sites do have different content, if the mobile version of each page has less content, those pages could lose their rankings for long tail keywords for content that only appears on the desktop version of the page and not the mobile one.
Sites with different content will need to consider the impact this will have on their site, especially since it could result in a loss of traffic if the content missing from the mobile site is the same content that is also ranking well in Google.
Read the full article by Jennifer Slegg.