How does Mobile-First Indexing Work? Does it Impact SEO? Part 1

Here’s a fascinating look into mobile-first indexing, & whether or not it impacts SEO: Part 1

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Ramzi Chamat / 8 Ways Media
2018-01-30 08:57:00

A mobile phone on a wooden table with headphones plugged in

Mobile-first indexing is a hot topic of conversation of late, and is part of Google’s ever-continuing efforts to make the internet a more mobile-friendly place that accurately reflects user behaviour trends.

For business owners, this can create a lot of confusion. Does anything need to change? If your site is mobile-friendly, is that enough?

What is mobile-first indexing?

Mobile-first indexing means that the mobile version of your website becomes the starting point for what Google includes in their index and how they rank your site. It’s called ‘mobile-first’ because it doesn’t just involve mobile – if a site doesn’t have a mobile-friendly version, the desktop site can still be included in the index. However, the lack of a mobile-friendly version could negatively affect your website’s rankings, while a site with a positive mobile experience will most probably receive better rankings, even for searchers from a desktop.

It’s also called ‘mobile-first’ because the mobile version is fast becoming the primary version of your site, whereas traditionally, the desktop version of your site was the primary one.

This doesn’t mean that you need to go off and make rapid changes to either your desktop or mobile website, but it does mean you need to check the following, particularly if you have a separate mobile website:

A person holding an iPhone. The screen is locked

• Content:

Ensure your mobile version has all the high-quality, valuable content that exists on your desktop site, including text, images and videos. Ensure all content is crawlable and indexable, including alt-attributes for images.

• Structured data:

Your mobile and desktop versions should have the same structured data markup. URLs shown within structured data on mobile pages should be the mobile version of the URL. Avoid including unnecessary structured data if it isn’t relevant to the specific content of a page.

• Metadata:

Make sure all titles and meta descriptions are equivalent on both versions of all pages. This doesn’t mean identical – you should, where possible, optimise your mobile titles but ensure the same information and keywords are used.

• Hreflang:

If you use hreflang for internationalisation, your mobile URL’s hreflang annotations need to point to the mobile version of your country or language variants, while desktop URLs should point to the desktop version.

• Social metadata:

Twitter cards, OpenGraph tags and other social media metadata should be included on the mobile version in addition to the desktop version.

• XML and media sitemaps:

Any links to sitemaps need to be accessible from the mobile version of the site, including robot directives and links to your privacy policy page.

• App indexation:

If you have app indexation set up for your desktop site, you should make sure that you’ve verified the mobile version of the site in relation to app association files and so on.

• Server capacity:

Ensure that your host servers can handle increased crawl rate.

Stay tuned for part 2 where we answer the most frequently asked questions about mobile-first indexing! Coming soon!

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