Google mobile-first indexing is now underway for a “handful of sites,” the company confirms, posting tips to ready digital properties for the change…
Back in March, Gary Illyes repeated more than three times, the Google mobile-first index remains at least months away from debuting. Now, it’s starting with just a select number of sites. Once live, the Google search index will split desktop from mobile listings, prioritizing the latter over the former. Google will update and refresh the mobile index rapidly, while updating desktop listings less often.
Google Mobile-First Indexing Starts Rolling Out
The change is due to the common disparity between desktop and mobile experiences. Both may differ greatly. Because of this, the new mobile-first index will evaluate content from mobile versions.
That switch is now going live and Google is “closely being monitored by the search team.” The search giant states sites with responsive design “generally don’t have to do anything.” However, Gary Illyes,webmaster trends analyst, posted the following tips to ready websites for the mobile-first index:
- Make sure the mobile version of the site also has the important, high-quality content. This includes text, images (with alt-attributes), and videos — in the usual crawlable and indexable formats.
- Structured data is important for indexing and search features that users love: It should be both on the mobile and desktop version of the site. Ensure URLs within the structured data are updated to the mobile version on the mobile pages.
- Metadata should be present on both versions of the site. It provides hints about the content on a page for indexing and serving. For example, make sure that titles and meta descriptions are equivalent across both versions of all pages on the site.
- No changes are necessary for interlinking with separate mobile URLs (m.-dot sites). For sites using separate mobile URLs, keep the existing link rel=canonical and link rel=alternate elements between these versions.
- Check hreflang links on separate mobile URLs. When using link rel=hreflang elements for internationalization, link between mobile and desktop URLs separately. Your mobile URLs’ hreflang should point to the other language/region versions on other mobile URLs, and similarly link desktop with other desktop URLs using hreflang link elements there.
- Ensure the servers hosting the site have enough capacity to handle potentially increased crawl rate. This doesn’t affect sites that use responsive web design and dynamic serving, only sites where the mobile version is on a separate host, such as m.example.com.