Google has begun to disclose some information and to answer key questions regarding its future mobile-first indexing, which will be a major update to how it works.
This is the next major evolution of Google, and therefore, SEO: Google will adopt mobile-first indexing. That means he’s going to change his way of browsing and seeing the web pages. Until now, it was the desktop versions of the websites that were taken into account. Google will change that: it will soon be the version displayed on smartphones that will be taken into account. Google has already started communicating about this change. Here’s what to remember from what was officially announced.
The official announcement regarding the project to move to mobile-first indexing, early November 2016. Googler Gary Illyes relays the announcement in a tweet stating that this is a significant change.
- An update that will not take place for several quarters
This update will not take place for several quarters, and not until 2018, recently announced Google, during an SMX.
Google has repeatedly postponed the date. The project was first introduced in early November 2016, and mobile-first indexing was to become a reality in the following months. Google had abandoned the goal of setting it up in 2017 and announced nothing specific. This was not a reason to wait until 2018 to prepare for it. On the contrary, it was better to be ready for 2018, or even before.
- A very important update
By adopting this mobile-first indexing, Google is going to change its way of working quite radically. The engine will now rely on what sites show on a smartphone to rank the results, including the results that appear on the desktop. It’s not a small change. For websites, the issue of SEO is quite consistent because Google will not see them the same way.
The fact that this change has been repeatedly postponed also shows its importance. Tests have been conducted for several months, and continued throughout the year 2017, at least. In the end, it was more than a year of testing: if Google is working as much this update, it is good that it is of paramount importance.
- But which will be done gently
The update will be major, of course, but it will be smooth. Google has been reassuring on this point. This is the reason why so many tests are done upstream. Google has assured that this change should be neutral on the quality of its results. There will not be a fortiori no “Big Bang”. Moreover, the deployment will not happen at once. It will be progressive, that is, it will be done site by site.
Googler John Mueller announces that the deployment will be site by site and that there will be no specific launch date.
Finally, the last point which must reassure: Google has several times promised to communicate on this update. The engine has already started. He answered the main questions on Twitter and continues to distill information at conferences. Let’s bet he will continue like this.
A small note on this point: we can start to believe that the more Google communicates, explains, and details an update, the less it will have an impact on the search results. That’s what happened with the “mobile-first” update of 2015, on which Google had communicated a lot upstream, and which finally had the effect of a “wet firecracker”. The opposite is also true: the updates on which Google does not say much, like Fred, or the many Phantom updates, could have a lot of impact on the results without being subject to any Google announcement or communication.
- Rules a little different with this new indexation
Mobile-first indexing will not adopt exactly the same rules as the current indexing, desktop-first. The Googler Garry Illyes has made it clear on Twitter. For example, currently, content hidden in the famous menus accordions, widespread on the web, are not well indexed. This will no longer be the case with mobile-first indexing: “In a mobile-first world, hidden content to enhance the user experience will be important,” tweeted Garry Illyes, implying that hidden content in the accordion will be well indexed with future indexing.
The mobile index first – Accordeon
Googler Gary Illyes explains that the content hidden in the accordion menus will be well taken into account with mobile-first indexing
- The responsive is the most comfortable solution to be ready
Faced with this change of scale, the responsive design appears once again as the simplest solution, and finally, the preferable solution. During its mobile-friendly update, in 2015, Google had already indicated that this was the solution it recommended, officially.
This is still the case today with mobile-first indexing. Because responsive sites serve from the same URL, the same HTML codes and content on mobile and desktop, switching from desktop-first indexing to mobile-first indexing will not change anything for them.
Of course, this is not the only solution. And it can be difficult or irrelevant to redesign your site to adopt the responsive design. But let’s say that responsive sites are the ones that will have the least work to do to be ready for mobile-first indexing.
- Mandatory audit for all sites
To be ready when deploying this mobile-first indexing, there is an essential method. It is necessary to realize a crawl of the site which is served on the desktop and to realize another one of the site which is served on mobile. We will then compare the differences and wonder about these differences. What’s missing on mobile will also be missing in Google’s future index. It is better to try to present the same content on desktop and mobile that responsive sites are already doing.