If you haven’t noticed, Google is constantly working to update its search engine and make it as much reflective of the needs of its users as possible. Nowadays, a rapidly increasing number of people are browsing through their mobile devices. It is only natural that Google will be spending more time to cater to these users.
There are several updates made by Google that is designed to make the web a friendlier place for mobile users, but there is a new update being rolled out known as the mobile-first version of its index. This could mean significant changes for webmasters and search engine optimizers.
But what is the mobile first index?
Google collects data found on every web page in a huge catalog known as an index. It would then use these to formulate display search results for different queries. Up until recently, Google has mainly viewed web pages through the eyes of a desktop user. Now, Google has started to prioritize mobile versions of each page as the main ranking factor in its index.
This hasn’t been the first time Google has released an update that is meant to address the growing needs of the mobile population. Back in 2015 and 2016, updates were made to encourage the web to be more mobile-friendly. Aside from that, there was also the update where Google worked hard to reward sites that offered mobile compatibility.
How would this impact my SEO?
Optimizers and webmasters may want to note that the mobile first index doesn’t affect what Google has considered being mobile friendly. A site won’t be penalized or rewarded in the rankings based on how mobile friendly it is. It has been stated, in fact, by Google that the change is not going to affect search rankings in a big way.
Instead, the impact of this mobile first indexing is going to come into play if your desktop and mobile sites are very different. As an example, if a mobile version of a page in your site has very few content than the desktop version, the mobile part will be treated as the main version. This change could significantly affect the way visitors view your site or brand. Mobile first is quite important since it reiterates the commitment that Google has on appealing to mobile users.
The bigger picture
Google has once again proven that its goal for the future regarding mobile is about making every site compliant to this growing need. Besides changing how sites are going to be ranked based on their mobile features, the search engine giant has also steadily rolled out new features that favor mobile-exclusive functionality. There are Accelerated Mobile Pages or AMPs out now which allow users to access content almost in an instant when including protocols. There is also app streaming which will let users preview content in apps that they haven’t yet downloaded on their mobile devices.
It is quite clear that Google is developing a bold new future for the mobile users and its content. The mobile first index is just another herald that announces the changes that are to come.