Let’s face it. We’ve been hearing about mobile-first for years now. It’s been an imminent Google algorithm update for a while now, so it’s easy to forget exactly what it is and why it matters.
Brush up on your mobile-first history and find out why it’s so important right now.
The mobile-first index timeline
• 2015: “Mobilegeddon” struck. Google implemented an algorithm update that shook up Google rankings and favored mobile-friendly sites.
• 2015: Mobile searches outpaced desktop searches for the first time. Since then, mobile usage has continued to grow.
• 2016: Google introduced AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages).
• 2016: Google first announced the mobile-first index and noted that it would begin taking effect in a few years.
• 2017: Google announced the mobile-first index was still a while away.
• 2018: Google started sending “mobile-first indexing enabled” messages through Google Search Console.
What are the “mobile-first indexing enabled” messages all about?
On September 18, 2018, people started noticing a new notification in their Google Search Console accounts. Google was sending a message that announced “Mobile-first indexing enabled for [insert site name here].”
This was the largest direct and personalized communication from Google letting webmasters know that their sites would now be ranked with the mobile-first index. Not every webmaster has received them, so if you’re waiting for your message—hang tight. It’s coming.
What does mobile-first mean for businesses in 2018?
Already got your message from Google Search Console and stressing out? Dreading the day you’ll finally receive your mobile-first notification? Don’t fret.
Here’s what the mobile-first index means. In the past, the Google algorithm crawled and ranked a website’s desktop version (and gave bonus points to mobile-friendly sites).
The problem was that so many site experiences drastically differ from desktop to mobile. Since more and more people are searching on mobile, Google wants to reward the sites that deliver a stellar mobile experience. Hence, the mobile-first index. Now, Google will crawl and index the mobile version of a site.
With the rolling out of those messages, mobile-first is actually in effect for most sites as of September 2018. Hopefully, you’ve taken advantage of the time since Google first announced mobile-first to optimize your site’s mobile experience. If so, you shouldn’t see a huge wobble in performance.
However, if you notice changes in rankings or traffic in the past few weeks, it’s recommended that you investigate your site. Use Google’s very own Mobile-Friendly Test to see how it evaluates your site.
Once you have a baseline understanding of how Google sees your site, it’s time to take action.
Check out Google’s site for tips and recommendations on what to optimize.