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What You Need to Know About Mobile-First Indexing

Between 2016 and today, there has been an almost full shift by Google to mobile-first indexing. But what is mobile-first indexing and what does it mean for marketers? This article will help you understand just that.

What is Mobile-First Indexing?

Mobile-first indexing means that Google predominantly uses the mobile version of your website for indexing and ranking.

5 things You Need to Know About Mobile-First Indexing

Mobile-first indexing is something that every marketer should understand. Here are 5 things you need to know about mobile-first indexing:

1.      You can’t opt-out of mobile-first indexing

If you’ve been moved over to mobile-first indexing, there’s no going back. You also have no way of opting in manually. This means that you need to be thinking mobile-first through every aspect of design and development of your website.

2.      Google advises on mobile-first best practices

We all know that many areas of Google’s algorithm are kept very well hidden, however the search engine offers loads of advice to help people get their head around mobile-first indexing best practices.


  • Ensuring Googlebot can access your content
  • Checking your structured data
  • Checking ad placement
  • Troubleshooting mobile-first issues

3.      There’s a difference between mobile-first indexing and mobile usability

Your site can be moved over to mobile-first indexing but still have mobile usability issues; don’t confuse the two.

As said by Google’s John Mueller:

A site can or cannot be usable from a mobile point of view, but it can still contain all of the content that we need for mobile-first indexing.

An extreme example, if you take something like a PDF file, then on mobile, that would be terrible to navigate. The links will be hard to click; the text will be hard to read. But all of the text is still there, and we could perfectly index that with mobile-first indexing.”

4.      Page speed is massively important

“A slow site is a great site” -said no one, ever. Users continually want faster websites, and as such, site speed continues to be a ranking factor, incorporated into mobile-first indexing.  If you have a slow site, this will in fact act as a demoting factor.

5.      Your site should still provide the same experience across mobile and desktop

Although it is commonplace for designers and developers to focus their efforts on a site’s mobile UX, a problem arises when this is done by hiding elements when a page is viewed on a mobile device as this can cause an array of issues with mobile-first indexing. Google advises that a website should provide the same experience across devices.