Mobile-First indexing of all new websites

Mobile-First July First

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Data shows that 53% of website visitors will leave a site if it doesn’t load within 3 seconds. Safe to say this adage can now be applied to the mobile responsiveness of a website.

Why would a user squint at miniscule text, or struggle to pinch and zoom to view a site’s images when they could move on to a website that has been optimised for the mobile experience. Google agrees, and as of 1 July 2019 will commence mobile-first indexing of all new or previously unknown to Google websites. This means that for new websites, Google will use the mobile version for indexing, ranking, and evaluating your site’s relevance to a search query. Existing websites will soon follow suit, and site owners will be notified when their website is seen as being ready to be indexed mobile-first.

Why the change? More users than ever are browsing using mobile devices. How many? 

2019 browser usage data shows that in a comparison of desktop and mobile browsers, mobile holds 44.7% of the browser market share worldwide.

 

Source: StatCounter Global Stats - Browser Version Market Share

Smartphone usage is increasingly common in both developed and developing countries, however is markedly higher in the latter. While developed nations continue to have higher desktop usage, this is not to say they aren’t also accessing the web through a secondary device: their smartphone. Deloitte’s 2018 Mobile Consumer Survey identified that 89% of Australians own a smartphone. 

Forget mobile-first indexing, what even is indexing? 

Among other things, Google is an indexed search engine. Indexing refers to the process of adding web pages to this search engine. A website is indexed through a process of ‘crawling’, whereby software commonly known as bots follow links from webpage to webpage, indexing all in their path.

Historically, a website’s desktop version was, well, their only version, and this was dutifully crawled and indexed by Googlebot’s desktop crawler. The explosion in popularity of smartphones has changed the online experience. Websites must now cater for not only the classic PC, but more importantly the every growing range of mobile devices available, changing their appearance in order to optimise a visitor’s experience. Google has recognised the shift, and all new websites will be crawled using Googlebot's smartphone user agent.

What does this mean for someone building a new website? It means that your website’s Mobile Responsiveness is no longer an afterthought, it needs to be front and centre of the website development process. It’s no longer a design feature, it forms part of your website’s Search Engine Optimisation strategy; your website’s mobile-friendliness will inform Google as to your sites’ relevance to a user’s search query. 

Curious to see if your site is ready to be indexed with Googlebots’ smartphone user agent? Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test lets you test how easily a visitor can use your page on a mobile device.