Full Mobile First Index. From September 2020 only mobile sites

Google has issued a statement that addresses the new page indexing rules. According to Google data, 70% of pages are ideal for indexing on mobile devices. Providing a specific date for indexing changes is to motivate those who have not yet decided to adjust the page to the mobile version. In this case – after introducing the changes announced by Google, the position of such a site in the search results may significantly decrease.

What is Mobile First Indexing?

Mobile First Indexing is a mobile indexing of websites, which Google has started to implement in 2016. It assumes indexing not only desktop pages, but mainly their mobile versions. Thanks to the update of the algorithm, the websites not optimized for mobile devices will drop in the rankings. A bigger investment in the mobile version is a bigger benefit for the website owner, reflected in the page positions in search results.

On the official Google blog, we read such information about Mobile First Indexing:
“Mobile Optimized Indexing means that Google will primarily use the mobile version of the site for content indexing and ranking purposes. Until now, a computer version has been used in the index when assessing the relevance of the page to the user’s query. Currently, most users use Google on mobile devices, so the index will use mainly the mobile version of the page content. We do not create a separate index optimized for mobile devices – we still have only one index.
5 years have passed since the introduction of the first mobile indexing, and 3 years since the first launch of Mobile First Indexin. The evolution of the Internet is taking place before our eyes – from a stationary to a mobile version. It is also worth mentioning here the “June 2019 Core Update”, after the introduction of which Google started to pay more attention to mobile versions of websites.

In 2018, the number of people browsing the Internet on mobile devices (mainly smartphones) outnumbered the users of desktops. Web Designers and website owners make every effort to launch mobile versions of websites as soon as possible, or rebuild websites to make them mobile friendly. Google implements the changes gradually so that everyone can prepare for them properly. Most websites already have their mobile version. Those who are not yet prepared for it should try to adapt their websites as soon as possible so as not to lose their position in the search engine.

Mobile First Indexing – what will change from September 2020?

What exactly will change in the way pages are indexed? On the Google blog we read:
“With a complete switch to mobile indexing, Googlebot’s mobile indexing value will automatically increase. Moreover, we will automatically update our index to match the mobile version of your domain. Depending on the domain, such change may take some time. Then, from time to time we will index the site using a traditional stationary Googlebot. However, the vast majority of indexing will be done by our smartphone client”.
The official information provided by Google assumes that the domains will be checked mainly by the mobile bot, which will evaluate the website for display on mobile devices. This will be a significant change. If errors appear on a mobile device, its rating will be unfavorable for the position in search results. Prepare for the changes – check if your website is adjusted to mobile devices.

How to check if my website is already indexed by mobile bots?

When adapting to the changes, you should first check if your website is displayed properly on mobile devices. If there are any errors, you should immediately proceed to make corrections or, if necessary, prepare a smartphone-friendly website from scratch.

Currently, we have the possibility to check indexing on mobile devices for all pages in Google Search Console in several ways. Site status can be specified in the ‘Settings’ tab. (settings page):

We can also check the site’s indexing in the ‘URL Check’ options, where we can check the address in the context of its last indexing:


Mobile version errors – what to pay attention to?

Check if the content displayed on the mobile version corresponds to the one on the desktop page, and if the user is able to freely go to all subpages of the site. Also pay attention to photos, videos and links. Check if the displayed metadata, such as: titles, descriptions and structured data are the same. It is also important to verify pop-ups. It is important that they do not block the screen and that the potential customer can easily close them. Also take care of the speed of the mobile page loading – if the domain is displayed slowly, an impatient user may resign from using it.

In Google Search Console, we can check if a given subpage is suitable for mobile devices.

Possible errors of the mobile version can also be checked in the Google Search Console under the tab Improvements -> Support on mobile devices:


What do the changes for online store owners mean?

At present, websites whose versions were not adapted to mobile devices are still highly affected by the changes. This is becoming less and less common, because most of the sites are already indexed by smartphone bots. However, from September 2020 all pages will be indexed only by the visiting mobile version bot.
If your website has not yet been adapted to mobile devices – hurry up. Otherwise, after the changes are made, your website may suffer a lot. In case of an online store, this will mean lowering or stopping the generation of organic traffic from potential customers.

Beata Wysocka
SEO Specialist at Brand Active. On a daily basis, she takes care of SEO projects, prepares analyzes and recommendations related to the optimization of client's websites and monitors the activities carried out.

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