- Google is expanding its mobile-first indexing of websites after a year and a half of tests, according to a company blog post. That means the company, which has a near-monopoly on mobile search, is prioritizing the mobile version of websites when crawling and ranking search results.
- The move aims to improve the experience of using Google search on a mobile device and marks a shift away from the current practice of using computer programs to crawl, index and rank websites by first looking at the desktop version.
- Marketers that want to check whether they've been selected for mobile-first indexing can check Google's Search Console. The company said sites that are not in the initial wave "don't need to panic" because the new indexing is more focused on how Google gathers content, not how it ranks websites.
Google's first wave of mobile-first indexing is another step in the company's attempt to improve search results and the user experience as more consumers increasingly turn to smartphone and tablet searches while on the go. Google's more than 90% market share for mobile search may be an indication of the company's superiority in search results; it also means that advertisers have few choices in ways to reach their target customers on mobile.
As long as Google is communicating to mobile marketers how their websites will be seen on smartphones, brands need to adhere to the company's vague guidelines or risk suffering suffer from diminished discoverability, web traffic and sales. The company in December provided some tips to prepare websites for the upcoming change to mobile-first indexing. The first step, it outlined, is to ensure that mobile versions of a web page have the same content as the desktop version. That means all text, videos and images in the desktop version need to be available on the mobile site for Google's crawling software to scan and index.
Google also said that having fast-loading content is helpful for those looking to perform better for both mobile and desktop users. The search giant this month started a project to convince web standards groups to adopt technology derived from its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) framework, a stripped-down form of HTML that boosts the mobile page speeds. Google's proposal, as outlined in a blog post, would let mobile users see faster non-AMP sites throughout the web. Plus, it's another way for Google to tighten its hold on what people see on their mobile devices.
Advertisers have grown increasingly uncomfortable with the dominance of Google and Facebook on digital advertising and are starting to push back against the companies. The two companies have been dubbed a "duopoly" because of their overwhelming dominance of the U.S. digital ad marketplace, which is expected to reach $107 billion this year, per The Wall Street Journal. Advertisers are seeking more choices to loosen the duopoly's strength, but Google and Facebook continue to work toward holding their media dominance.