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Mobile First Index: New Google Change Which May Affect You

Google has made changes again. What is behind the Mobile First Index? Find out how this change is from Google and how it will affect the indexing of the pages and, therefore, the positioning and organic traffic they receive. Keep reading!

What is the Mobile First Index?

The Mobile First Index is the new change that Google has launched. This change refers to how the search engine indexes the pages.

According to this new rule that has added the internet giant, now the indexing of a page and its ranking will be made taking as reference the version for mobile devices of a site and not its desktop version, as was done until now.

This changes completely the rules of the game again, and that is that Google is modifying the way it indexes the sites as users change their search behavior. Before explaining what this new change consists of and how it will affect you, we must make a point to delve a bit into the term that occupies us throughout the post: indexing.

It is said that a page is indexed when it appears in the search results, in other words, it is as if Google adds you to an index so that your website can appear in searches. For this to happen, one of your bots, being Googlebot the best known, goes through your page, crawls it and adds it to this index.

As I mentioned, a bot goes through your website to track it and, until now, Google crawled the web pages simulating the navigation of a user as if browsing from a computer (desktop version), considering the mobile version as an alternative. If the web page in mobile and desktop version was very different, this could be a problem for users who perform their searches through mobile. Now, with this update, which began to be implemented on March 26, 2018, although it had already been announced in October 2016, this has changed.

With the Mobile First Index, the Google bot will track the webs as if the navigation were performed by a user from a mobile device. The reason for this I have commented previously: the adaptation to the habits of consumption of the users.

Currently, 80% of the access to the internet is thanks to a mobile phone and more than 50% make quick searches in a search engine through this device. In addition, according to a study by Chartbeat, since January 2017 total traffic from mobile has increased by 34%, while that received from the computer has decreased by 14%. With all this new change, Google remains faithful to its purpose of giving the best response to its users and this, today, is to get the best access to information from the mobile. Keep it in mind!

How does the Mobile First Index work?

There are many doubts about this recent update, and one of the most common is to know if Google will leave aside the pages with desktop version.

Faced with this, the first thing to mention is that if your website is not responsive this update will not affect you as much, since Google has long penalized websites that do not adapt perfectly to all devices. But if this is not your case, what follows is of interest to you!

The Google robot will not work exclusively with the mobile versions of the pages and will forget the desktop versions. This update is called Mobile First, because if a web page does not have a mobile-friendly version of its website, Google will crawl the desktop version (which is now considered as an alternative) and this may still be included in the Google index, something that used to be the other way around. That is, they only change the priorities of the Google robot.

It will be better understood with the following image of MOZ:

Mobile First Index

Do you already have this update implemented?

Google has been gradually implementing this change, starting with those websites that it believes are prepared and, therefore, will have the least impact with the change. It is possible that your site has already implemented this change, do you want to know if this is the case? You have several options to confirm it.

  • You will receive the following message through Search Console:
    Mobile First Index Search Console
  • The Googlebot for smartphones (Smartphone Googlebot) will track your website more frequently. You can obtain more information in the following link.
  • Pages cached by Google will be the web version.

How will the positioning and organic traffic of your website change depending on how it is?

As I have already anticipated you before, depending on the format of your current page, these changes will affect you in one way or another at the level of SEO and organic traffic.

  • If your website is not adapted to mobile. You will not notice important changes because, currently, Google is already penalizing you.
  • If your website has a mobile version and a desktop version:
    • The contents are the same in the two versions. It will not negatively impact you because when the Google bot indexes your mobile version you will find the same content.
    • The contents are different in the two versions. It may impact you because Google is going to read the mobile version, and if it is different from the desktop (the one you were reading until now) you can notice variations in your rankings.

What to do so that the Mobile First Index does not impact you negatively

Faced with this, there are several actions you can take so that the new update does not affect the positioning and organic traffic of your company’s website:

Pages without mobile version

It is clear that the first recommendation for those companies that do not have a mobile version is to create one to adapt to the user’s habits and achieve better rankings in Google and, thus, receive more visits to the web. Without this, any action that is carried out will not have the expected repercussion.

Pages with mobile version with equal contents

As I have already mentioned, you will not notice the difference with the entry of this new update, so you should continue working as before.

Pages with mobile version with different contents

If you are in this case, you should check the following points to make sure that the Mobile First Index does not affect you:

  • Content: Make sure that the valuable content you have in the desktop version also has it in the mobile version. This refers to both text and images and videos, all duly labeled so that they can be tracked and indexed.
  • Structured data: You must have the same structured data framework in both versions, but make sure that the URL version of the structured data in the mobile version is the mobile URL (with the “m.” In front of the URL) .
  • Metadata: Titles and meta descriptions must be equivalent in all versions.
  • Herflang: The hreflang annotations of the mobile URLs must point to the mobile version of the language of your country, and the desktop URLs must point to the desktop version.
  • Social metadata: Social metadata should be included in all versions.
  • Maps of XML sites: You must confirm that any link to the maps is accessible from the mobile version. This also includes signs of trust, as well as links to the privacy policy page among others.
  • Search Console: Usually we check the desktop version in Search Console. Make sure that the mobile version is also verified.
  • Server capacity: Confirm that the host server can handle a higher tracking rate, applying this only to the version with a different host, what I told you about the “m.” in front of the URL.

As you can see, the users have been changing their habits of information search little by little and, for this reason, Google has been adapting to these changes in the behavior of the users to offer them the best answer in the searches. It makes sense, right?

Now, you, as a company must also adapt to the changes that Google is making so that your positioning and your organic visits are not affected by the latest news.

The Mobile First Index is already a reality, so I recommend you check if it has already affected you or if, on the contrary, you still have a margin to apply the necessary changes and that this update does not pass bill. How are you going to face this challenge?

Watch the following video for more information:

Hope this post has been interesting and looking forward to your comments!

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