John Muller from Google and a SEO Pro provided some information about the new mobile first indexing. The latest update will completely drop desktop sites from Google index.

This means if your website is not ready for mobile first your rankings may drop, and all the desktop content will be excluded by Google. This will include the following:

  • Content
  • Images
  • Structured data
  • Website structure
  • Rendering

Mobile-first indexing is exactly what it sounds like. It means that the mobile version of your website becomes the first point for what Google includes in their index, therefore your mobile website will be the starting point and needs to be optimised correctly.

Not having a mobile first website can and will impact rankings.

Not having a mobile friendly site can impact rankings because the user experience will not be good, so when a user searches for a query on a mobile the best optimised sites will be shown. Therefore, if your website does not meet Googles guidelines the site will drop in rankings.

Make sure your content is well optimised and can be displayed correctly on each device. When a user searches for something the site needs to load fast because you do not want the user waiting for the site to load.

All the images must be mobile friendly, or they will be dropped if it is a desktop only version. As a result, when the content and data of the site does not meet the mobile first update the site ranking drops on Google meaning it will be hard for customers to find the site.

M-dot website issue

M-dot sites may have a bug which stops it from showing the right version of the site. If this is the case the best thing to do is redirect and fix the site so the correct version can be indexed and displayed.

John Mueller’s comments on m-dot site bug:

“One of the things around mobile first indexing that sometimes pops up, especially if you’re working on larger or older sites that have the m-dot setup…

When it comes to mobile-first indexing, this makes things a lot trickier. So, we can process these but what will happen is we will only index the m-dot version of the site and it can happen that we show the m-dot version of the site in the desktop search results.

Usually, we try to show the appropriate version, desktop or mobile version, in the search results, the URL at least. The indexed content is only the mobile version.

But with m-dot sites it can sometimes happen that we just have the m-dot version where we did not actually pick up that there is a connection to a desktop version here. This is a lot more likely if you have a m-dot version and use an hreflang.

The only solution there is essentially to make sure that you redirect your users from the m-dot version to the desktop version when they use a desktop browser.

And I don’t see us changing this in the near future or probably at all.”

When will the index update take place?

John announced the date will be March 2021 for switching to the new mobile index. He said it was a huge internal undertaking that has resulted in some bugs that will not be fixed.

What John Mueller said:

“…we’re now almost completely indexing the web using a smart phone Googlebot, which matches a lot more what users would actually see when they search.

And one of the things that we noticed that people are still often confused about is with regards to, like if I only have something on desktop, surely Google will still see that and it will also take into account the mobile content.

But actually, it is the case that we will only index the mobile content in the future.

So when a site is shifted over to mobile first indexing, we will drop everything that’s only on the desktop site. We will essentially ignore that.

…anything that you want to have indexed, it needs to be on the mobile site.

And the final deadline we’ve come up with is March 2021.”

Key points

  • March 2021 is the date for desktop version of sites will be dropped.
  • M-dot sites might experience having desktop browser users sent to the mobile version of the site from Google’s SERPs- redirect site to correct version.
  • Only the content that exists on the mobile version of a website will be indexed and ranked.
  • Make sure that the mobile version of your site has the correct content which you want Google to index and rank for.
  • Desktop content will be completely ignored. Therefore, it is important to make sure all the desktop content you have meets or is changed for a mobile version.

Author Numan Chaudhry

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