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Guide to get ready for the mobile-first indexing

Programmatic

Guide to get ready for the mobile-first indexing

Google is changing the indexing from desktop to mobile-first. There isn’t a specific transition date, however, Google is showing more signs that the transition is coming soon, but there isn’t a “timeline for when it’s going to be completed.” Gary says that is “rolling out mobile-first indexing slowly.” From an index that “typically look at the desktop version of a page’s content”, Google will have an index that will “use the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking, to better help Google – primarily mobile – users find what they’re looking for.”

Guide for the Google mobile-first indexing change

  • Sites that make use of responsive web design and correctly implement dynamic serving (that include all of the desktop content and markup) generally don’t have to do anything.
  • 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.

Google alerts that Webmasters will see significantly increased crawling by Smartphone Googlebot, and the snippets in the results, as well as the content on the Google cache pages, will be from the mobile version of the pages.

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