Mobile First Indexing and its working

Before we go into mobile first indexing, let us first see what does indexing mean. Any search algorithm has 4 core parts-Crawling, Indexing, Retrieval, and Rankings.

  • When Google follows links on the web to discover pages, it is called Crawling. Your content is discovered here.
  • The process of indexing includes turning the content more usable and storing it in the database. It is done in a format that is helpful for ranking algorithm process.
  • Retrieval takes place when the search engine wants to store all the matter relevant to your content within its database. Most of the times, retrieval and ranking might happen together.
  • The ranking is the process wherein the content are arranged in an orderly fashion based on a number of factors such as speed, relevance, mobile friendly etc.

Google just has a single desktop site indexing. Through this, it sends signals to the desktop user agent based on Googlebot. With their mobile Googlebot, they then crawl to gather other signals that are mobile friendly. Once the desktop site crawling is done by Google, the ranker adjusts the ranking as per the mobile crawler collated signals.

Though indexing often does affect ranking, it should not be the main concern with brands. It is essential to differentiate between the content being mobile friendly and mobile index for relevance. While a site can be in the mobile index, it might not be friendly. Only three scenarios get the site in mobile index-either it as a responsive website, or it has a separate mobile site or it does not have a mobile site at all.

Responsive website Design helps Googlebot to put your site in a mobile index, regardless of any changes.

Separate mobile and desktop sites make things a little tricky. If the address is always redirected to the mobile site, the mobile crawler will always see the mobile site and not the desktop site. The same goes vice versa and then the site does not feature in a mobile first index.
Even when a brand does not have a mobile site, it still can feature in a mobile first index. The pages will still be seen by mobile crawler though it would not end up in a mobile friendly designation.

The solution to all this is to make a responsive site. Make the home page informative enough with all relevant information. Take good use of Content Strategy, Information Architecture, and UX teamwork to create an unforgettable mobile experience without losing on the important content. If one does not have a mobile equivalent page, serve the audience with the desktop page only. Or else, one can create a mobile version of the page.