Google is rolling out a new mobile-first index. This means Google will create and rank its search listings based on the mobile version of content, even for listings that are shown to desktop users.
What is changing with the mobile-first index?
As more and more searches happen on mobile, Google wants its index and results to represent the majority of their users — who are mobile searchers.
Google has started to use the mobile version of the web as their primary search engine index. A search engine index is a collection of pages/documents that the search engine has discovered, primarily through crawling the web through links. Google has crawled the web from a desktop browser point of view, and now Google is changing that to crawl the web from a mobile browser view.
What if I don’t have a mobile website?
Google wants you to have a mobile site, it will crawl your and consume the proper content and rank your site as well as it did by crawling your desktop site. 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. You can do the same with other mobile implementations, but there is more room for error.
My mobile site has less content than my desktop site. Should I be nervous?
Potentially, yes. Google has said that it will look at the mobile version of your site. If that has less content on page A than the desktop version of page A, then Google will probably just see the mobile version with less content.
Will this change the Google rankings in a big way?
It can. Google has previously said that content that’s not deemed mobile-friendly will not rank as well. That remains the case with this new index. Sites that are responsive or have mobile versions will have the mobile-friendly ranking boost applied. Content that’s not mobile-friendly doesn’t perform as well.
Also this is a global rollout, so it won’t be hitting specific regions only.
When will this fully roll out?
Google said they have already begun testing this mobile-first index to some users. But it looks like we are still months away from this fully rolling out. Google won’t give us a date because they are still testing the rollout, and if things go well, they may push it sooner.