What You Need to Know About Mobile-First Indexing

Woman using smartphone
Christine Germeroth
Christine Germeroth

Some aspects of search engine performance are more mysterious than others. While we have an idea of why certain sites perform better in rankings than others, there isn’t an exact science. But understanding the basics of how a search engine gathers information from your site can help you make some improvements. 

When a search engine crawls your website, it indexes information. Web indexing occurs so that search engines can retrieve information more quickly and accurately. Search engines parse information from both the desktop and mobile versions of your site.  

You may have recently started hearing the term “mobile-first indexing.” Mobile-first indexing is exactly what it sounds like: the search engine parses information from your mobile site before it collects information from your desktop site. 

Google rolled out mobile-first indexing for certain websites earlier this year. The post is careful to note that mobile-first indexing is about how content is gathered, not how it’s ranked, and that they only have one single index that serves search results. It’s still important to take this into consideration. If your content is vastly different on the mobile version of your site compared to the desktop version, it could affect where you appear in search results. If you haven’t already, you should optimize your website for mobile. 

There are a number of things you can do to make your website perform better for mobile users.

Make sure your site is responsive

Mobile responsive design simply means that your site renders well on a mobile screen. A smaller screen size means you may need to cut some information or put it into collapsible displays. You should also make sure buttons are large enough to click with a finger instead of a more precise mouse. 

Review your content

The mobile version of your website should have all of the most critical information from your desktop website. You may need to experiment with different ways to display the information on a smaller screen. 

Check your metadata

Page titles and meta descriptions should provide a clear idea of the content on each page. Include relevant keywords, but keep in mind that you have less space to work with on mobile, so you want to keep it brief.

These guidelines will help you start to prepare for mobile-first indexing. For more on how to optimize your website for mobile users, check out this article from Moz

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