Mobile First – Google makes Mobile Index the Main Index

Last week, Google announced at the Pubcon in Las Vegas that the Mobile Index will take the place of the Desktop Index as the main index. This means that from now on Google will not check if there exists a Mobile Version to the Desktop Version but conversely, if there exists a Desktop Version to the Mobile Version. The Mobile Index and Mobile will thus increase massively in value.

Even if most of the revenue is made on the Desktop Version of a website, Mobile SEO will become crucial since henceforward it will directly influence the crawling of a Desktop Version and therefore influence the Desktop rankings.

More than 50% of search requests on Google are made on Mobile

Google’s Mobile-First-Strategy is consistent. More than 50 percent of search requests on Google are made on a mobile device and it has been this way for a while now. This trend will continue. In order to be able to present optimal search results to most of Google’s users, it is up-to-date and consistent to focus on the mobile websites.

Mobile actually means Smartphone

For better understanding, it is important to know that by mobile devices Google is actually referring to smartphones. Google thinks of tablets to be more like desktop computers as the screen is bigger. Consequently, one could rather speak of a Smartphone Index.

What happens to the Desktop Index?

According to a Gary Illyes from Google, the Desktop Index will not disappear, but it will not be as up-to-date as the Mobile Index. Google seems to focus on the mobile websites while crawling.

What is of importance to SEOs now?

Following points will have to be met as soon as Google puts greater value on the Mobile Index:

  • Can the website be used with smartphones?
  • Are all important contents available on the mobile website?
  • Can Google crawl the mobile website without any problems?
  • Is the content display mobile friendly?
  • Can Google recognize if a content page is available for smartphones as well as desktop computers and if both are joined without any problem?

How can I check how well my mobile SEO is?

As the first and only tool on the market, SISTRIX offers a Visibility Index for smartphones for all countries evaluated, next to their Desktop Visibility Index. Since spring 2015, we evaluate all ranking data to calculate the Visibility Index twice- once for the desktop and secondly for the smartphone search results. These values can be compared directly in the Toolbox.

Visibility Index for on
Visibility Index for on

In light of past experience, we know that there are bigger problems regarding mobile SEO if the smartphone Visibility Index is more than 10% lower than the Desktop Visibility Index. Normally, if the mobile website has been well prepared for Google, the Smartphone Visibility Index will be higher than the Desktop Visibility Index.

The reason for this is that some competitors have not optimized their website for mobile devices and regarding smartphones one can win SEO market shares from them by using good mobile SEO.

Advantage Responsive Design

Websites with responsive design surely have it the easiest to optimize their websites for Mobile and Desktop. In principle, Google does not care if you implement the mobile websites by using responsive design, separate URLs or even using another domain. But a website using responsive design is less prone to errors and easier to synchronize than other options.

It gets problematic for website owners that only offer a trimmed-down version of their content on Mobile. In future, they could lose keywords and rankings on Desktop.

When will Google start using the Mobile Index as the Main Index?

Google has not yet set a specific date for when they will switch to the Mobile Index. They will announce the change on a blogpost and communicate more details beforehand. In order to not be caught unprepared, you should start dealing with the mobile website as carefully as with the desktop one today already. Not only for Google, but also for the users.

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