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29 March 2017 | Evie Palaiochorinou

Google’s Mobile-First Index

A few months ago, Google shared news that they will be releasing a mobile-first index. Something that had all SEOs talking. This mobile-first index is something that Tamar experts are keeping an eye on as it’s going to have a major impact on the world of SEO and rankings. Here’s our guide to the mobile-first index, its definitions and updates.

What does mobile-first index mean?

Google undertook the huge task of creating the mobile index when they realised in 2015 that more Google searches were happening on mobile rather than desktop.

They figured that it would be useful to create a new way of listing and ranking websites on their Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). That’s how the mobile-first index project was created and it essentially ranks websites based on their mobile version of content. The same holds for users searching on their desktops. The mobile index is essentially a new place that Google indexes, or in other words it stores, pages and documents it finds while crawling the web from a mobile browser. Therefore, it can retrieve relevant pages and rank them in the SERPs for whatever a user is searching for, just like it was always doing for the desktop version of websites.

It is very important to note that Google intends for the mobile index to be its primary index, and they are already testing it as such.

The latest updates from Google

Gary Illyes shared the latest updates on what is happening behind the scenes. Firstly, the relevant Google team is working on making the launch as quality-neutral as they can in order not to alienate users. He specifically stated that “[they] don’t want users to experience a loss in quality of search results. [They] need to replace the signals that are missing in the mobile web”. Secondly, he revealed that Google is building a new way of measuring page speed for mobile sites since the tools measuring desktop page speed will be rendered irrelevant.

However, there is no need to panic as Illyes made it quite clear at the SMX West conference last week that Google is not planning on rolling out the index soon. He stressed that there is no specific date, but rather we are looking at this still being months away.


smartphone mobile google

Source: Unsplash

How to become mobile-first-index-proof

Since we have time on our side, we would advise all webmasters to follow our simple SEO practices below in order to be prepared for this big change.

  1. Have a mobile site. Don’t panic if you don’t already have one or aren’t planning on having one, as Google said desktop-only websites won’t get a penalty. Although you might lose a ranking boost, the desktop version of your website will factor in how you rank on the mobile-first index.
  2. Make sure you are competing in rankings for content you actually want to rank for. If you don’t have a fully mobile-responsive design for your website, make sure you optimise for mobile your most important content. Otherwise, you might miss out as Google won’t index the SEO-optimised content you have on desktop, but rather only the mobile version of your content.
  3. Be sure to implement structured data on your mobile site.
  4. Even if you have a mobile site, you still need AMP in case your page load speeds are low.

If you are not sure whether your website will survive the mobile-first index roll-out, Tamar experts are always here to offer their help. Talk to us to find out more!


Evie Palaiochorinou

Evie Palaiochorinou

Digital Marketing Specialist