Remember 21 April 2015, the day in which Mobilegeddon was introduced?We all know that the algorithm is to favor mobile-friendly websites in its mobile search results.

As we can notice it’s almost three years after the introduction of the algorithm. And now it’s time to shake up a bit more, because this time it’s coming in the form of Google’s Mobile First index.

Mobile First Index

The world is obsessed with Smartphones with millions of people browsing the web and finding information on the go.  So having a mobile version website has become a basic piece of having an online presence.

General idea about Mobile First Index:

Earlier in Q4 of 2016, the Mobile First Index was mentioned and the discussion about this goes on among the website owners without an end.

So what is Mobile First index?

Indexing the mobile version of a website for its ranking and fall back on the desktop version when there is no mobile version. The Mobile First index is Google’s big step in giving priority to mobile over desktop on the internet. This is because over 55% of traffic to a website is coming from mobile devices and it continues growing year by year. A study quotes that “mobile search usage is expected to rise to 221 million by 2020”. So, focusing on mobile first index is the best way now.

Mobile First index Global users


Then, how does the indexing takes place currently?

Google is indexing your site based on the desktop experience and the content that exists in it.

Which part is changing now?

Google will begin to index and rank your site based on the content on your mobile experience rather than your desktop experience. Which is why the update is called Mobile First Index.

Who will get affected by this update?

If you don’t have a mobile version of your site and your desktop version is not mobile friendly, your content can still be indexed; however you may not rank as well in comparison to mobile friendly websites. This may even negatively impact your overall rankings on desktop search as well as mobile search results because it will be perceived as having a poorer user experience than other sites.

What if you don’t have a mobile version site?

Google said not to worry about it. Because Google will crawl the desktop version instead. But prevention is better than cure right? Illyes actually told us not to “freak out” about the switch over because they want to roll this out in a way that doesn’t hurt non-mobile friendly sites, which is really an odd statement. While this is nice of them to try to do, I can’t imagine a non-mobile friendly site will do well in a mobile first world, so you might want to freak out a little if you don’t have one.

Desktop and Mobile version


From the example shown you can notice that both versions of the site look alike, hence there won’t be any impact occurs while switching to mobile first index.

Why Mobile First Index was introduced?

A study states that “today, more people do search on mobile phones than computers. People are five times more likely to leave a site if the site is not mobile friendly. Over half of mobile users will leave a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load”. Also, in most countries, the use of personal computers is surpassed by smartphones. So to satisfy the user experience the Mobile First Index was introduced.

Tips that will help you in preparing for a Mobile First Index:

Fix the broken links and the incorrect redirects:

If you have separate mobile URLs, then you must check it for broken links and incorrect redirects. In case if a user visit the desktop version of your website from mobile devices and you have a mobile page at different URL same as desktop, then you must redirect the user to that particular URL instead of showing the same page or 404 errors. Also, check that the links are pointing to the correct relevant page.

Use Google Search Console to know the broken links and incorrect redirects on your site and get your mobile version indexed first.

Same content in both Desktop and Mobile version:

Since Google has said that it will look at the mobile version of the site, if mobile version site has less content than the desktop version, then Google will probably just see the mobile version with less content. This is why Google recommends you go with a responsive approach — the content is the same on a page-by-page basis from your desktop to your mobile site. Mobile first index mainly focuses on the content on your site.

Same Content in Desktop and Mobile version


Google also said that the content hidden in tabs, accordions, expandable boxes, and other methods would not be weighted as high. But when it comes to mobile, Google’s Gary Illyes said content like this will be given full weight if done for user experience purposes. The idea explains that the expandable content makes sense on mobile and not so much on desktop. So be ready with your content for Mobile first indexing.

Remove unplayable content and blocked resources:

Some types of videos or content are not playable on mobile devices because they are barely supported on mobile devices such as license-constrained media or experiences that require Flash or other players. Also make sure that Googlebot can crawl JavaScript, CSS, and image files used by your site so that the Googlebot can view your website as an average user. If your site’s robots.txt file disallows crawling of these assets, it can result in suboptimal rankings.

Compress the uncompressed images:

When a webpage is viewed, the images on the page speak what the webpage is all about. Image introduces your topic. This tends the user to download it or stay on the page for more time. Optimizing the image can save largest bytes and improve the performance of your website, faster the browser can download by taking fewer bytes and render useful content on the screen.    

Compress the uncompressed images


Run an audit of your mobile version site to find any additional site elements like structured data, title tags, etc. that you can optimize for mobile.

Avoid Interstitials:

Ya, it’s absolutely the pop-up ads. These ads partially or entirely block the page leading to a bad user experience. It is important to note that not all the interstitials will be an issue because you may have a legal or ethical reason to display the interstitials depending on your website and country. To avoid this kind of difficulties use a simple banner to promote your site with the page’s content.

Avoid Interstitials


Tests that helps in checking if the site is Mobile Friendly:

Since Mobile First index is going to roll out later this year, it is obvious to have a mobile friendly site. Below mentioned are some basic tests through which you can check whether your site is mobile friendly or not.

Manual Test:

Mobile Friendly test : This test helps in seeing how easily a user can use your page on a mobile device. By doing the mobile friendly test you will come to know the basic issues like small font sizes (which lead the visitor to pinch or zoom the page to see the content) and use of flash (some mobile devices does not support) that affect the user who visits your webpage via mobile devices.

Would you like to check your site for mobile- friendliness? Take the test in Mobile Friendly.

Mobile-Usability test : The mobile-usability test identifies the usability problems faced by the visitors to your site on mobile devices. The usability problems that can appear on your site are like, Flash Usage, Viewport Configuration, Fixed-Width Viewport, Content that is sized to Viewport, Small Font Size, and Touch Elements too close.   

Don’t know where to look for a Mobile-Usability report? Get your Mobile-Usability Report.

PageSpeed Insights :  As a study quotes, “even a one-second delay in mobile page load can decrease conversions up to 20%”, we need to optimize our site’s PageSpeed to get more leads. PageSpeed Insights measures the performance of your webpage for mobile devices and provides score ranging from 0 to 100 which falls under three categories as GOOD, NEED WORK, and POOR. Depending on the category your webpage falls you have to work on it to improve.

Google PageSpeed


Check your site’s PageSpeed and start working on increasing PageSpeed, since Google gives priority for PageSpeed as one of the ranking factors. Check out the Google’s new update on Page Speed called Speed Update.

AMP test : Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)  have two benefits: one is that it helps in fast labeling the site on search engine result pages and the other is that it comes under the ranking factors. Some factors you should know about AMP are:  AMP is essential for Mobile SEO, AMP reduces the bounce rate, and AMP offers analytics. The AMP gives a big hand in Mobile First indexing.

Want to how the AMP of your site works? Click AMP to know the results.

For mobile first indexing, we have to check few factors with respect to Google’s point of view:

Google Technical Test


Technical Test:

Schema : It is a framework that makes search engine easier to recognize what a site, or even a paragraph, is all about. Schema helps in improving your site’s rich snippets, which helps your site appearing more prominently in SERPs. For a mobile friendly site, we have to check few factors with respect to Google’s point of view:

Check whether Google can recognize your website with the help of Schema testing.

Security : Google has already taken action in the direction by announcing HTTPS as a ranking signal. This has led Google to index secure pages over unsecured pages. If that happens, sites which are under HTTP version will be pushed to the bottom. Competitors with HTTPS (secured) website will occupy the higher ranks in Google Page Rank. Also, it is estimated that 63% of traffic to HTTP websites will be affected.

HTTP to HTTPS Migration


If your website is not secured, please migrate to HTTPS immediately to improve your online reputation.

Content Optimization : This is to check whether Google can understand your content. The Fetch as Google Tool helps in showing how Google crawls or render a URL on your website. This tool helps in showing whether Googlebot can access a page on your site, how it renders your site and also shows the page resources that are blocked to Googlebot, if available. 

Check whether there are any blocks on your site that Googlebot was not able to crawl with the help of Fetch as Google tool.

Crawl Errors : The crawl errors help your website not to appear in the search results. The crawl error report provides the details about your website URL that Google could not crawl successfully. There are two main errors to be taken into notice. One is site errors that show the issues faced by the Googlebot in accessing your entire website for the past 90 days. The other is URL errors which show the issues faced by the Googlebot in crawling a specific page of your website.

With the help of Crawl Error Reports, check whether Googlebot found any issues in crawling your website.

Noticeable changes done by Google regarding mobile search:

When the talk about Mobile First Index began, Google started to work in mobile aspects. You might have seen the changes but not noticed well, if noticed then really you are into it. Let’s move on to the changes made.

All search cards and boxes within search cards are found to have round corners which were once with sharp corners. The dark blue color links are now found to be brighter which pleases the eye of the searchers. You will notice the change in colors if you search for a local business. Also, there is a change in color from orange to yellow for the review stars on business listings.

Google's update



When Mobile First Indexing will be rolled out?

Illyes said: “We don’t have a timeline for the launch yet. We have some ideas for when this will launch, but it’s probably many quarters away. Our engineers’ timeline was initially end of 2017. Right now, we think more 2018.” So, we can expect later this year.

How to prevent your website from the update?

To prevent the website do the above mentioned tests but focusing mainly on Content, Page Speed, Internal Linking/Site Structure, and Structure Data. So that your site will be the king mobile first indexing.

Does my website have to be mobile friendly if my customers are only desktop users?

Since more and more users are accessing the online content solely from mobile devices, it is definitely a good idea to make the move to the mobile friendly site.  Some interesting facts to note:

  • Mobile phones are owned by almost two-thirds of the world’s population;
  • Currently, most web traffic comes from mobile phones;
  • Within the past thirty days, more than one in five of the world’s population shopped online;
  • Most users use their smartphones to search and choose the nearby business to make the purchase. Also, some visits the store they select on the same day.


For a mobile friendly site, the following would be recommended:

  1. Make sure that your mobile site is entirely mobile-optimized.
  2. Get the content on your site ready for mobile viewing.
  3. Do not use pop-up windows
  4. Allow people to view the entire site
  5. Use mobile redirects
  6. Prioritize mobile first indexing factors.

If you have any queries or concerns in Mobile First Index, please feel free to request a no obligation support from our Google certified Experts

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Mobile First Index, SEO

About Guna Nadar

Guna Nadar

Brief Info about Guna Nadar +

I mostly write technical aspects and not much into creative writing. For the past decade I worked along with top notch SEO & Internet Marketing professionals which naturally lured me into the world of Search Engines. When I am not writing I read from comics to philosophy.Antiques, Fishing, hunting are my passions. Currently I am working on Google Penalty protection and .... more info about the author