Google search is finally getting the mobile-first indexing feature after over a year of testing, and a limited rollout in December. With mobile-first search indexing, Google uses the mobile version of a page for indexing and ranking search results, to make searches easier for 'primarily mobile' users, the company writes in a blog post. Google had introduced the project back in 2016.
The switch to mobile-first indexing comes as an increasing number of people are now using mobile devices to search on the Internet. While Google's crawling, indexing, and ranking systems historically have been using the desktop version of a page's content, the company said that they may cause problems for mobile searchers when that version varies from the mobile version. Google says that it will have one index for search results, rather than a mobile-first index that is separate from its main index. It essentially means that Google will start looking at the mobile Web pages to index the Web, not the desktop version.
For users to understand how Google determines the mobile content from a website, it has detailed the information on its developer documentation. The site showcases how sites using responsive web design or dynamic serving are generally set for mobile-first indexing. "For sites that have AMP and non-AMP pages, Google will prefer to index the mobile version of the non-AMP page," Google said.
Interestingly, Google insists that the content gathered by mobile-first indexing has no ranking advantage over desktop content. Moreover desktop-only content will continue to be represented in Google's index.
Google has started to prioritise mobile sites in several ways. In 2016, it had introduced its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project with the aim to reduce the loading times for mobile webpages. Earlier this year, Google had announced it will start considering page speed while ranking websites in mobile searches.