With the majority of people using at least one mobile device on a daily basis, an ever-increasing number are using smartphones and tablets to scour Google while they are out and about or on the move. However, Google’s ranking systems typically look at the desktop version of a page’s content, rather than the mobile, to evaluate its relevance to the user.
Relying on the desktop version of a site can cause issues when the mobile page has less content than the desktop page, because their algorithms are not evaluating the actual page that is seen by a mobile searcher.
Google: The Searcher’s Experience Comes First
Google is known for its focus in providing the best possible search experience to all its users. To make their results more useful, they’ve started to experiment so that their index is mobile-first. Even though their search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, their algorithms will primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages, understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in their results. However, they’ve clarified that while their index will be built from mobile documents, they’ll continue to provide a great search experience for all users no matter the device they use.
So far, Google will work on these algorithm changes on a small scale, but will eventually make the full shift to mobile once they are sure that the searchers’ experience won’t be affected.
Recommendations for Webmasters
Even though this process has only just begun, Google has provided some recommendations to help webmasters prepare for this mobile-focused index:
- Webmasters that manage a dynamic serving site or a responsive site where the primary content and mark-up is equivalent across mobile and desktop, shouldn’t have to change anything.
- Webmasters that have a site configuration where the primary content and mark-up is different across mobile and desktop, should consider making some changes to your site.
- All webmasters should make sure that they serve structured mark-up for both the desktop and mobile version.
Sites can verify the equivalence of their structured mark-up across desktop and mobile by typing the URLs of both versions into the Structured Data Testing Tool and comparing the output. If you need to add structured data to a mobile site, avoid adding large amounts of mark-up that isn’t relevant to the specific information content of each document.
If you’re a site owner who has only verified their desktop site in Search Console, you should add and verify your mobile version as well.
Use the robots.txt testing tool to verify that your mobile version is accessible to Googlebot.
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