Google makes begins rolling out mobile-first indexing to more and more sites, the search giant sees some confusion within the industry around mobile-first indexing. He has chosen to clarify some points on Twitter this morning.
URLs with mobile-first indexing
If you deploy different URLs for mobile versus desktop, Google will show the mobile searchers your mobile URL and the desktop searchers your desktop URL. In both cases, the indexed content would be the mobile version of the website, even though Google shows the desktop URL. Sites designed with just one URL for mobile and desktop do not need to worry about this.
Google said the crawl count each day won’t change, but the balance will shift from desktop pages crawled to mostly mobile pages crawled. Google also may temporarily increase crawling when it reindexes your website.
There’s currently a bug with the Google cache that when a website is moved to the mobile-indexing process, the Google cache link sometimes may not return anything and may 404 or show a clear page. This is a known bug that Google is taking care of fixing and has zero effect on indexing and ranking.
The speed update is unrelated to mobile-first indexing
The speed update that is coming up in July is unrelated to mobile-first indexing. Yes, you need to make your website fast, specifically for mobile users, Google says; however, the speed update isn’t directly linked to mobile-first indexing.
Mobile websites that use accordions or hamburger menus or similar methods to create content less overwhelming in the smartphone graphical user interface are excellent.
The Search Console messages have begun to appear, and sites are steadily being switched to the mobile-first indexing approach.
A lot has been discussing mobile-first indexing, but all of the attention has centered on the fundamental facets of mobile site optimization. In this article, I wish to dig into a few more technical aspects of mobile site optimization (SEO) and show what you can do to ensure your website is fully ready and will survive the mobile-first indexing era.
What does Google mean by “mobile-first indexing?” Contrary to what some SEOs believe, Google isn’t developing a separate index for mobile search. Whether a website is the mobile-first indexing approach or not, Google still serves its search results from the same index of the web.
At its core, only something changes: In place of crawling websites with a computer user-agent, Google will crawl websites with a portable user-agent.
Historically, Google has crawled websites from a computer perspective, with a user-agent string that indicates a computer device:
Delivering mobile-optimized experiences
With this specific mobile user-agent, what Googlebot sees depends on how your website is configured to deal with mobile users. Delivering mobile-optimized experiences tends to occur in another of three ways:
Responsive design. With this method, nothing changes. Your website’s uniform resource locators (URLs) remain precisely the same, and the HyperText Markup Language (HTML) code served is identical as well. The site’s design will conform to how big the screen is being shown on, delivering a portable experience catered to the device’s specific screen resolution. Google recommends responsive design as its preferred design pattern because it requires the smallest amount of effort from their end; there’s no extra code to index and no additional URLs to crawl.
Dynamic serving. Sometimes websites will detect the user-agent when a page is being loaded and serve different HTML codes on a single URL regarding the type of device used. That is called dynamic serving. It is precisely the same URL, other HTML code, desktop users, and another for mobile users.
Separate mobile URL. In this method, a website will serve different codes to mobile users and even use different URLs because of its mobile site. Often a website will serve its mobile content from a separate subdomain, like m.website.com, or a different subfolder like www.website.com/mobile/.
All these mobile design approaches have unique strengths and weaknesses. For SEO, responsive design tends to present the smallest amount of hassle, whereas dynamic serving and separate mobile URLs may cause lots of problems along with your site’s SEO.
But having a responsive site doesn’t mean work is done. Even though you have a responsive site and get a natural mark on Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test, that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to fear from mobile-first indexing.
In addition to the fundamental on-page SEO elements, you will even need to keep structured data in mind. Your internet site may have structured data embedded on your desktop pages to drive rich snippets in Google’s search results pages. If this structured data is absent on your mobile site, you can lose those rich snippets and the click-through rate (CTR) benefits they convey.
Ensure any structured data markup present on your desktop site is also current — and fully valid — on your mobile site. Use Google’s structured data testing tool to verify your markup, and keep an eye on the structured data report in Google Search Console for potential errors and warnings.
When you have an international website, perhaps you are using hreflang tags to point alternate versions of your content for different countries and languages. If this is the case, you may want to update your hreflang tags on the mobile version of your site.
Google has indicated that it expects to see appropriate hreflang references on your desktop and mobile websites. So when you have a website that uses separate mobile URLs, make sure your hreflang tags on mobile indicate the mobile versions of your international content