In keeping with Google’s mobile-first strategy, the company’s search engine crawlers will increasingly consider the mobile version of a website’s content first when indexing and ranking the sites’ search results. Mobile-first indexing is a shift away from Google’s current practice of crawling, indexing and ranking websites by looking at the desktop version of the site content first.
The move is designed to ensure that mobile users searching for content online don’t run into issues on websites where the desktop version of a page’s content is very different from the mobile version, the company said in a blog Dec. 18. If Google only uses the desktop version to index a website in such situations, its algorithms would not be evaluating the actual pages served to the mobile user, according to the company.
This week’s blog is actually a reminder for webmasters and site operators to prepare for the change. Google actually first announced plans for mobile-first indexing in November 2016. Since then the company has been talking about the policy via Google Hangouts and events like Pubcon search and social media marketing conference.
Google has not laid out a formal timeframe for the shift to mobile-first indexing. The company has acknowledged the significance of the shift and has committed to implementing it in a slow and phased manner though it is not clear when it intends to complete the transition.