Information circulating about Google’s mobile-first index has changed a lot over the past several months. Because of how fast new details are coming out, there’s a lot of updated advice you should be considering.
Must-Know Intel About the Mobile-First Index
To help you better understand the current state of affairs about this new index so you can prepare your website for what’s to come, we’ve outlined the top several things that are important for you to know:
There Will Only Be One Index
There will be one—and only one—index. When news of the mobile-first index initially broke, it was implied that there would be separate desktop and mobile indexes. That has been confirmed by Google to no longer be the case. There will be only one index, and that index will be mobile-first. That means the ranking criteria that Google thinks is important for a mobile device will also impact how sites rank on desktop.
The Launch Date Has Been Moved Back
The switch to the mobile-first index isn’t likely to happen before midway through 2018 at the earliest. The official rollout date for this change has shifted several times, though, so consider this a fuzzy estimate.
Tabs & Accordions Will No Longer Be Devalued
Currently, Google devalues content within tabs and accordions, as it assumes the content must not be as important as the visible content on the page if it’s hidden. However, Google understands that for the best mobile user experience, it’s sometimes helpful to place content within accordions or tabs to reduce long-scroll pages.
When the mobile-first index hits, content within tabs and accordions will no longer be devalued. This will be the case on both desktop and mobile since one index will be used for both. Until then, however, content within tabs and accordions will continue to be devalued.
The Mobile Version of Your Site Will Be the Source of Truth
Your mobile site is what will be indexed, not your desktop site. For those of you with a responsive site, this isn’t a problem or an area of concern. However, if you have a separate mobile site that’s different from desktop (e.g., less content), the mobile site is what Google will crawl for indexing purposes.
Further, if you have certain content set to hide on mobile, it’s possible that content will be excluded from the index since Google isn’t likely to crawl your desktop site.
(Note: This doesn’t apply to content within tabs and accordions.)
Change Is a Certainty
Accept that all of this may change over the next couple of weeks.
Stay on Track with a Good UX
Nothing at this point is a guarantee. We may wake up tomorrow with updated news that shifts our understanding of what is to come.
But there’s still something you can do to prepare: Focus on your users. From SEO to design to content strategy, it’s all about your users. As long as you’re keeping them in mind and creating your website to best meet their needs, you shouldn’t have a lot of catching up to do.