Google Begins Rolling Out Mobile-First Indexing; Few Notice

Mar 27, 2018 - 8:18 am 13 by
Filed Under Google Updates

Google Mobile First Indexing Rollout

Google announced yesterday, which I covered at Search Engine Land, that they are now rolling out mobile-first indexing to "sites that follow the best practices for mobile-first indexing." So not all sites but only sites that are ready for switching over to the mobile-first indexing process.

Mobile-First Indexing, Not Mobile First Index

Don't call it the mobile-first index, but rather call it mobile-first indexing. The reason is that this is not a new separate index, Google said they "continue to have one single index that we use for serving search results." "We do not have a "mobile-first index" that's separate from our main index," Google added. This is why there is so much confusion - because of how we/they call it.

It is about how they go about crawling and indexing the web. Before they crawled and indexed the web as a desktop browser would see the web page. Now with this change, Google is crawling and indexing the web as a mobile browser would see the web page.

Here is how Danny Sullivan explained it on Twitter:

Notifications For Webmasters

As we covered, Google will notify those who have verified properties in Google Search Console if the sites they have there have switched over to the new mobile-first indexing process. They will send out these notifications that say that "mobile=first indexing is enabled" for their site. Here is a screen shot of the notification:

Google Mobile First Indexing Notice

Google also said "site owners will see significantly increased crawl rate from the Smartphone Googlebot. Additionally, Google will show the mobile version of pages in Search results and Google cached pages."

Best Practices For Mobile-First Indexing Docs

Google has published developer documents on mobile-first indexing best practices. Google shares here how to make sure your site doesn't suffer at all in terms of crawling, indexing and ranking when you are switched over to the new mobile-first indexing process.

Google said "we evaluate each site individually on its readiness for mobile-first indexing based on the best practices and transition the site when the site is ready," and shared this chart:

Google Mobile First Indexing Dev Docs

Global & Multilingual Rollout

This mobile-first indexing rollout is global and multilingual. John Mueller from Google confirmed this is not launching first in the US or other specific regions but this is more about if a site is ready for the mobile-first indexing process or not:

Most Are Not Seeing It Live Yet

I have yet to see any webmaster say they (a) got a notification about their site being enabled for the mobile first indexing and (b) them seeing their cache or other signals that their site has moved over. I checked dozens and dozens of mobile-friendly popular sites and saw no signs that they moved over yet.

I know RankRanger thought the rollout was over a week ago, but that doesn't seem right.

Google said even though the rollout is happening now, it still be be very slow:

Google's Recap

Google posted these main bullets as a recap to this rollout:

  • Mobile-indexing is rolling out more broadly. Being indexed this way has no ranking advantage and operates independently from our mobile-friendly assessment.
  • Having mobile-friendly content is still helpful for those looking at ways to perform better in mobile search results.
  • Having fast-loading content is still helpful for those looking at ways to perform better for mobile and desktop users.
  • As always, ranking uses many factors. We may show content to users that’s not mobile-friendly or that is slow loading if our many other signals determine it is the most relevant content to show.

Finally, this is probably unrelated to the weekend Google algorithm update we covered that is not confirmed.

Let me know if you see a cache show the mobile version of a site, that is a strong signal that site has moved over! I suspect once we see one in the wild, a bunch more will stop popping up like crazy.

Forum discussion at Twitter and WebmasterWorld.

Update: I just asked John Mueller if the mobile first indexing thing is related to the algorithm update (unconfirmed) from the weekend and he said the mobile first indexing didn’t start rolling out until after the blog post (maybe not even until today) - so it is just starting soon...


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