Bitesize blog: The latest on mobile-first indexing

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Google announced mobile-first indexing in late 2016 and the search giant is still only half-way through the process of switching over to the mobile-centric initiative. As Google’s John Mueller said in December, “there’s still a lot of work to do” and roughly half of the web is still on the old desktop indexing protocol.”

So where does this leave you?

First, check if your site is mobile-first

Google will have notified you through a message in Search Console if your site has been moved over to mobile-first indexing but you can confirm for yourself by using the URL inspection tool to analyse any URL from your site.

Checking mobile-first indexing on Search Console


The key thing to know about mobile-first indexing is it only really affects sites with separate desktop and mobile pages. If your site uses responsive design, then your desktop and mobile pages are the same thing – which means nothing should change after the switch.

If you are running separate desktop and mobile sites, here are some of the latest tips from Google:

  • Structured data: Make sure you have the same structured data on your mobile pages as your desktop versions.
  • Alt-text for images: Complete and optimise all of your alt-text for images on mobile pages.
  • URLs: When Google recognises separate mobile URLs, it’ll show the mobile URL to mobile users, and the desktop URL to desktop users – the indexed content will be the mobile version in both cases.
  • Crawled counts: The total number of crawled URLs a day generally won’t change, but the balance will shift from mostly desktop to mostly mobile crawls. During a switch-over to mobile-first indexing, Google may temporarily crawl more as they re-index everything.
  • Cached pages: Cached pages for many mobile-first indexed sites still aren’t showing. This is a bug, not by design, and should get resolved over time. It’s just the UI, it doesn’t affect crawling, indexing, or ranking.

Read more about mobile-first indexing

Not sure what mobile-first indexing is all about? Read our guide to find out everything you need to know.

Michelle Hill profile picture
Michelle Hill

Michelle joined Vertical Leap in 2011 as Marketing Manager, having spent the previous 15 years of her marketing career in the recruitment, leisure and printing industries. Her passions include dogs, yoga, walking, cycling, the beach, mountains and tapas.

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