Breaking Down the Basics of Mobile-first Indexing

SEOby Mashum Mollah14 May 2020

Mobile-first Indexing

It won’t be surprising if, during your research on search engine optimization(SEO), you come across terms like mobile-first indexing. In the back of your mind, you ask, “What does it mean?”

Because it’s such a significant google update, you, the business owner, need to learn more about it. Your knowledge will also help you pick the right SEO company to work with.

What Is Mobile-first Indexing?

Mobile-first indexing means Google will crawl and collect the information displayed on the mobile site first then on the desktop. To understand this further, let’s have an analogy.

Pretend that Google is one massive library storing all the information you can think of. When you have a question, such as ‘Where is Australia?’ it sorts through all the relevant data and then organizes them according to what it thinks best answers your query.

But to gain all these data, it needs to get to the source. In the actual world, these are websites. It visits the pages often, scouring for any new information.

Before, these data are in desktop versions. It’s understandable since, during this time, most people were PC or Mac users.

Times have changed, however. By 2024, mobile commerce or shopping will account for over 40% of e-commerce. More people are also searching for information using their smartphones or tablets.

Google then believes that a shift is necessary, and thus, by 2016, it announced that it would start collecting or indexing content from mobile versions of websites first.

Should You Say Goodbye to Desktop Optimisation?

The answer is no. If your website doesn’t have a mobile version, then Google still uses desktop content for indexing. The search engine is also giving all websites enough time to transition or create a mobile site.

For this year, Google announced that mobile-first indexing implementation could reach 100% in September. However, it can also experience delays because of the coronavirus pandemic. Some businesses might not have sufficient resources to create a mobile site. Nevertheless, there’s no better time to shift than now.

Will It Affect Ranking?

Why does ranking matter in SEO? The higher the rank, the higher your page appears in the search results. Being on the top spot or at least on the first page is sought after because of its high conversion rate.

Estimates suggest that the first page gets 75% of the clicks. It might drop to only 5% for results appearing on the second page.

But will mobile-first indexing hurt or improve rankings? The answer seems to be yes, according to Google. That’s why it also needs optimization. Here are some ideas:

  • Make sure the content between desktop and mobile versions is closely similar or the same.
  • Use visuals. Images and videos render well on mobile devices. Create content that combines pictures, infographics, or videos.
  • Focus on responsive design. Content should appear the same regardless of whether the user views it on a mobile phone or a tablet.
  • Balance long-form with readability. While content is still king, long-form content wins over 300-word posts. However, it’s tedious to read on mobile devices. Thus, enhance readability by breaking long paragraphs and adding subheadings, preferably with targeted keywords that feel natural.

Hopefully, by learning more about mobile-first indexing, you can collaborate better with your SEO company. Both of you can figure out which of the many things to do should be priorities.

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Mashum Mollah

Mashum Mollah is an entrepreneur, founder and CEO at Viacon, a digital marketing agency that drive visibility, engagement, and proven results. He blogs at

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