Mobile First Indexing and What You Need to Know
Not sure what Google has been up to in the world of mobile-first optimization? Let’s get you up to speed.
To recap, Google’s Mobile-first indexing means that the Google algorithm will use the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking, to better assist – primarily mobile – users find what they’re looking for.
Over the past year plus, Webmasters have experienced significantly increased crawling by Smartphone Googlebot, and the snippets in the results, as well as the content on the Google cache pages, will be from the mobile version of the pages. Google has made numerous announcements to the web dev community that encourage the implementation of responsive web design to be a common practice. As we see the mobile-first index continue to evolve in 2018, here are some extra tips to keep in mind:
- Make sure the mobile version of the site also has the important, high-quality content. This includes text, images (with alt-attributes), and videos – in the usual crawlable and indexable formats.
- Structured data is important for indexing and search features that users love: it should be both on the mobile and desktop version of the site. Ensure URLs within the structured data are updated to the mobile version on the mobile pages.
- Metadata should be present on both versions of the site. It provides hints about the content on a page for indexing and serving. For example, make sure that titles and meta descriptions are equivalent across both versions of all pages on the site.
- No changes are necessary for interlinking with separate mobile URLs (m.-dot sites). For sites using separate mobile URLs, keep the existing link rel=canonical and link rel=alternate elements between these versions.
- Check hreflang links on separate mobile URLs. When using link rel=hreflang elements for internationalization, link between mobile and desktop URLs separately. Your mobile URLs’ hreflang should point to the other language/region versions on other mobile URLs, and similarly link desktop with other desktop URLs using hreflang link elements there.
- Ensure the servers hosting the site have enough capacity to handle potentially increased crawl rate. This doesn’t affect sites that use responsive web design and dynamic serving, only sites where the mobile version is on a separate host, such as m.example.com.
Looking for more on mobile first indexing and the benefits of optimizing your responsive website? Check out the Google Forums for insights and anecdotes. Read more on the official Google blog by Gary.
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