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Mobile-First Indexing is Here – Here’s What You Need to Know!

Last updated on April 28, 2021
5 minute read
Key Takeaways

  • In early 2021, Google will ONLY crawl & index the mobile version of your website.
  • 60% of Google searches are done via mobile devices.
  • 94% of U.S. smartphone owners search for local information on their phones.

Skill Level

All Skill Levels

It’s been a while for many of us, but think back to your most recent vacation. Did you bring your laptop along with you? And if you did, did you lug it around with you everywhere you went once you were in your destination? Probably not. Chances are, you relied on your smartphone for everything from calling a taxi to finding local restaurants to booking local tours and activities. It’s no different for your potential customers! According to Statista:


60% of Google searches are done via mobile devices

94% of U.S. smartphone owners search for local information on their phones

Do us a quick favor – stop reading for just a minute and take a look at your company website on your smartphone.

  • Can you easily read the text?
  • Can you see the entire menu without it getting cut off?
  • Do you have to pinch and zoom or scroll side to side to see the content?

If you noticed any of these usability issues, your customers will too, and these problems are some of the main reasons people go back to the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) in search of a more user-friendly website.

Do devices really matter?

iconRegardless of whether a user accesses your website on desktop, mobile, or tablet, it’s essential that you deliver the best possible user experience. Certain aspects of your site, such as menus, ads, and text, can look different and load at slower speeds depending on the device it is being viewed on.

Don’t worry! You can avoid these issues (and more) by designing a mobile-first website – one that looks great and is easy to use on both smartphones and desktops.

To add even more proof to the pudding, having a mobile first website isn’t just about providing a positive user experience – it is a Google ranking factor. Google has already updated some websites to mobile-first indexing, and it’s planning to move all sites to this type of indexing in the Spring of 2021, so now is the time so start optimizing for mobile!

What does mobile-first indexing mean for my website?

Websites typically have both a desktop version and a mobile version. Before smartphones were as widely used as they are today, Google based rankings on the desktop index of your site. Now, as mobile search has surpassed desktop search Google is switching to mobile-first indexing. This means all rankings, for both mobile and desktop, will be based on the mobile index of your website. In other words, you can think of this change as “mobile-only” indexing. Google has already enabled mobile-first indexing for many websites, and aims to make this change universal by Spring of 2021.

What exactly does this mean for your website? Let’s say you have a page on your desktop site that ranks really well, but it’s not included on the mobile version of your site. After Google shifts your site to mobile-first indexing, the high ranking page will no longer be indexed, and your rankings will suffer as a result.

Pro tip: Don’t forget to design and build your website with mobile in mind to please both users and search engines. Read more on mobile-first design tips in the next Compass guide.

Wondering if Google has already enabled mobile-first indexing for your site? You should receive an email through Google Search Console alerting you that the change has taken effect.

Wait… Isn’t my website already mobile-friendly?

If your website was built within the past few years*, or you’ve made regular updates to your mobile site, it probably is already mobile-friendly. If you’re not sure, Google makes it easy to check with their FREE mobile testing tool. This handy tool will provide you with a report that includes improvements you can make to optimize your site for mobile.

*article published in April 2021

graphical user interface, text, application

graphical user interface, application

Once you’ve determined that your website is mobile-friendly, there’s always room for improvement, especially since design best practices are always evolving.

Are you ready to dive head first into mobile design? We’ve got you covered in the next Compass guide where we provide 11 mobile-first design tips!

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