What is Mobile First Site Indexing in Search ?

 Why Your Business’ Website Has a Sudden Need for Speed 

mobile website speedGoogle’s “Mobile First” indexing is upon us. 

In late 2017, Google began moving a selection of “ready” sites to its mobile index. This means business websites have a sudden and real need for mobile-friendly speed. Ignoring Google's change can soon cost your company, potential customers, as Google gives priority search engine placement to more responsive, faster-loading websites.  

Google: “Most Sites Lose Half their Visitors While Loading”


In 2017, when a visitor entered a search term that matched your company’s business products, services or website, she would see very similar search results if she was at her laptop, tablet or other smart devices. With "Mobile First," the mobile version of your website becomes the starting point for what Google includes in their search results and the baseline for how they determine if and where your business will appear on a search page.

Mid-2018 webmasters using Google Analytics began seeing approval notices or warning notices.  Approval meant that Google would show the site more frequently on mobile devices than site owners whose site had not earned its "mobile friendly" designation.  Other site owners would see warnings "Your site does not meet usability guidelines." 

Mid-2019 the percent of mobile searches have skyrocketed since 2017. Google's research says that mobile visitors are less patient than laptop visitors and are also less likely to buy something from you during that visit.  Google researchers found that retail sites in USA tend to load in over six seconds and the mobile visitor tends to go elsewhere in less than three seconds. 


Enter your website home page URL in the Google test box (e.g. http://yourdomain.com). Watch the simulator at work. You will see how the first time visitor will experience your site on their mobile device, how long it takes your images to appear, and much more. The result examples below tell me that this site owner has several opportunities for improvement.  Take a minute and test your home page and see its load speed and how it compares to other sites in your industry. . 

Your Test Results Tells You MobileFirst.SpeedTest

-- How fast your site’s home page loads

-- How many visitors you are losing today

-- Average errors you might have repaired to improve your score

--How Your Site Compares to other sites in your industry


Google’s Tips To Improve Mobile First Indexing

  1. If you have a responsive site with identical content across mobile and desktop, you shouldn’t have to change anything.
  2. However, you still need to test a responsive site with the tool above to identify your opportunity improvement areas.
  3. Google recommends using the Structured Data Testing Tool to verify the equivalence of structured markup across desktop and mobile by typing the URLs of both versions into the Structured Data Testing Tool and comparing the output.
  4. When adding structured data to a mobile site, avoid adding large amounts of markup that isn’t relevant to the specific information content of each document.
  5. If you are a site owner who has only verified their desktop site in Search Console, please add and verify your mobile version.
  6. Use the robots.txt testing tool to verify that your mobile version is accessible to Googlebot.

Author: Margaret S. Ross


Margaret Ross is president of Visible Strategies Agency a Leading Digital Marketing Agency located in Atlanta GA.  For more information about Visible Strategies Agency Services - See What We Do.  

Margaret is an Author, Columnist, Speaker, and Founder of the Kamaron Institute, a premier management consulting, research and educational consulting firm.

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