- Google on July 1 will prioritize the mobile versions of new websites over their desktop counterparts. Mobile-first search indexing will mean that new websites need to be optimized for viewing on a smartphone or tablet, Google announced in a blog post.
- Google recommends that websites with separate URLs for mobile viewing, such as an m-dot site, update their mobile sites to make them equivalent with the desktop version. Primary content such as text, images and videos should be the same for both versions.
- Google also prefers mobile-optimized content for websites with dynamic serving, which have the same URL, but different content based on the user's device. The company will continue to send Search Console notifications to webmasters of older websites as they prepare for Google's new indexing method.
Google, since late 2016, has worked toward mobile-first indexing as smartphones have been the most popular way to browse the internet for several years. What started as an experiment will next month become the company's official policy for indexing newly registered websites or ones that were previously unknown to its search engine. That means marketers need to ensure that their websites are optimized for mobile viewing to improve discoverability on Google, which still has a near-monopoly on search despite pressure from several sources, including ecommerce giant Amazon, visual search apps like Pinterest and voice-enabled platforms.
Mobile-first indexing won't mean that websites without a mobile-friendly version will disappear from Google’s search results. The company’s web crawlers — the software that analyzes websites and their hyperlinks — will simply look at the mobile version of a website first. That means even desktop users may see mobile-optimized websites in their search results, per a blog post by SEO and marketing consultant Bridget Randolph.
Google's mobile-first indexing comes as the company updates its mobile search results to showcase a website's branding and give web users a better idea of where information is coming from. Sponsored listings will be more clearly marked as ads, while branded favicons likely will help branded websites and publishers stand out in search results. Google also has undertaken a broader effort to expand its listings into more imagery, videos, augmented reality (AR) content and shoppable content, giving marketers more ways to connect with consumers.