From 1st July 2019 all websites will be indexed by Google using mobile-first indexing. Older websites have been slowly migrated over to mobile-first for some time and this process will continue. This new announcement only covers newly launched websites.
So what is mobile-first indexing?
In order for your website to appear in Google search results their bots first ‘crawl’ your website to index content and gather information on usability (which can cover many aspects). From here their algorithms can make decisions on ranking positions.
Mobile-first indexing simply means that instead of looking at the desktop version, Google will now make ranking decisions based on the mobile version. All new websites are now being judged on how they operate and render in mobile browsers.
Google has explained the change is due to the rapid growth in Google searches performed on mobiles – which now how a large majority of use Google. They want to make their search results as useful as possible and therefore only want to present websites that it deems users will find helpful.
What has Google said?
In their announcement Google stated: “… mobile-first indexing will be enabled by default for all new, previously unknown to Google Search, websites starting July 1, 2019. It’s fantastic to see that new websites are now generally showing users – and search engines – the same content on both mobile and desktop devices.”
What does it mean for your website?
As stated above this only affects new websites that Google has not previously been aware of. If your website is already using mobile-first indexing you will have been notified through the Search Console.
There’s no clear method to when mobile-first is introduced to pre-existing websites. Google simply says they are switched when they deem them ‘ready’, assuming their giving website owners plenty of opportunity to introduce a mobile friendly design. That said, the day is coming when all websites will be judged mobile-first and if you don’t currently have a responsive design or dedicated mobile website this should be a top priority.
In the case of new websites it’s clear that it’s vital that they’re designed to look great and work well on all devices. A new website that has been designed for desktop users with little consideration for mobile is not going to build strong search visibility.