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What Exactly Is Mobile-First Search?

What Exactly Is Mobile-First Search?

A higher percentage of searches than ever before are being performed on mobile devices. However, search engine rankings are still based more heavily on desktop versions of search content. This brings up some challenges for creating accurate rankings, as mobile pages display fewer results than a desktop page, which means Google’s algorithms do not evaluate the actual page a mobile searcher is looking at.

This is where the concept of mobile-first search and indexing comes in. Within the last couple years Google has been doing more experiments on how they can resolve these issues and make the index more heavily based on mobile searches than desktop versions of those results. Even though the search index will remain one index of websites, algorithms will ultimately make primary use of the mobile version of a site’s content to create more accurate rankings.

This, of course, represents a significant change to Google’s indexing processes, but with the rise of mobile devices and mobile search, it’s one the company has seen as necessary. 

With this in mind, here are some ways webmasters can make alterations of their own to account for a more mobile-centric Google index:

  • First and foremost, if you have a responsive design for your website, or a dynamic serving site in which the main content of your site is the same for both mobile and desktop, you will likely not have to make any significant changes. This is just one of the many great benefits of responsive design!
  • If you have only added the desktop version of your site into Search Console, you should also add and verify your site’s mobile version.
  • If you do have different primary content and markup in your desktop and mobile sites, there are several other changes you should make:
    • Use robots.txt to ensure the mobile version of your website is getting crawled by Googlebot.
    • Serve structured markup for each version of your website. You can make the necessary checks and alterations by looking at the Structured Data Testing Tool in webmaster Tools.

A couple other important things to note.

First, if you do have different content and markup for each your mobile and desktop sites, you do not have to spend any time changing your canonical links. Google will continue to use these links as guides for users searching on any type of device.

Additionally, if your website only has a desktop version, Google will still index your site. However, it’s highly recommended you create a mobile version to improve user experience.

For more information about mobile-first search and indexing and how this could affect your website, reach out to our team at IDMI.Net today.

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