NEWS & TIPS: Google to Completely Switch to Mobile-First Indexing by Sept 2020
In March, Google announced that they will be completely switching to mobile-first indexing for all websites beginning September 2020.
This comes after four long years of development and gradual implementation, and the time has finally come that mobile-first indexing is in its final phase.
To review, mobile-first indexing simply means that Google will prioritize indexing and ranking websites that are mobile-friendly. As such, websites that are not mobile responsive will suffer greatly in terms of SEO ranking.
What happens when mobile-first indexing is completely implemented?
According to Google, 70% of all websites in search results have already been shifted to mobile-first indexing. So there’s a huge chance that your website has been switched over too.
After September 2020, Google outlined what will happen once the mobile-first indexing is completely rolled out:
- Crawling activities for Google Search will be primarily done with their mobile smartphone user-agent. They will, however, continue to occasionally crawl using their traditional desktop Googlebot.
- Google will update its index to your website’s mobile version, and you will notice an increase in mobile crawl rate from Googlebot Smartphone.
- Google will predominantly show mobile-responsive websites in search results, and non-mobile-friendly sites will very likely be devalued.
How do you know whether your website has been shifted to mobile-first indexing?
If your website has been shifted over to mobile-first indexing, Google will send you an email to notify you.
Otherwise, you can check through two other means:
- Manually check on the settings page of Google Search Console. Select property, then choose Settings → About → Indexing crawler. You should be able to see “Googlebot Smartphone” and the date of when the switch started.
- Use Google’s URL Inspection Tool. For more information, refer to Google’s guide here: See the current index status of a URL.
How can you make sure that your SEO ranking is not affected come September 2020?
As for the technicalities, Google recommended some best practices to ensure that your website is ready for mobile-first indexing:
1. Ensure that Googlebot can access your content
Be careful when using Robot.txt; make sure that you’re using the <allow> directive where applicable so that crawlers can access and render your website content.
2. Minimize lazy-loaded content
Lazy-loaded content are those that are considered non-critical UX elements and are deferred by requiring user interaction such as swiping, tapping, or typing. This is considered as one of the best practices for better UI/UX performance, but if not implemented correctly, it could impede Google from accessing essential and primary content. Here’s how to fix lazy-loaded content.
3. Ensure content consistency
The content shown on the desktop and mobile versions of your website should be consistent. This includes images, text, videos, links, headings, and more. Additionally, all meta and structured data should also be the same for both website versions. Otherwise, this could result in Google understanding your content differently.
We’ve also previously created a guide on How to Prepare Your Business Website for Google Mobile-First Index, which can be summarized as such:
- Use a responsive web design.
- Use a single URL for both desktop and mobile websites.
- Create high-quality, mobile-optimized content.
- Optimize site speed.
Of course, the best way to prepare your website for mobile-first indexing is to make your website itself mobile-responsive and that your content is created with the reader in mind and not just for search engine bots.google+, mobile first index, Mobile-friendly, SEO