Google’s mobile-first approach of the web is being reflected on Google search as well. The search giant’s mobile-first indexing is rolling out after over a year of testing. The new indexing method will use the mobile version of a webpage to index and rank search results which will help make searching easier on mobile devices.
The project was introduced back in 2016 and after a limited rollout in December, it is finally official. So far, Google’s crawling, indexing and ranking system have used the desktop version of a webpage which may have caused issues for users searching on smartphones.
“Mobile-first indexing means that we’ll use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help our — primarily mobile — users find what they’re looking for,” Google wrote in a blog post.
The jump to mobile-first indexing makes sense as an increasing number of users now use smartphones to search things on the internet. Google stated that it will have one index for search results instead of a mobile-first index that is different from the desktop-first index.
As a result, pages that are optimised for mobile devices will get precedence and will rank higher in search results. To know how Google determines a mobile-friendly webpage, you can read up on its developer documentation which showcases the best practices when designing a web-page. The documentation covers how sites can use responsive web design and dynamic serving. With sites havinig AMP and non-AMP pages, Google will prefer the mobile-version of the non-AMP page.
Google stated that site owners with mobile-friendly webpages will see significantly increased crawl rate from the smartphone Googlebot. Furthermore, Google will rank mobile versions of pages in search results and Google cached pages.
Having a mobile-friendly webpage isn’t the only factor to rank higher in search results though. Starting July 2018, Google will penalise websites that have slow-loading content by downranking them for both mobile and desktop users. However, if the information in a not mobile-friendly or a slow-loading site is the most relevant, it will still get precedence over others.