Mobile first indexing postponed until early 2021

Many small businesses have been gearing up for Google’s shift to mobile first indexing of its search results. Are you ready? If you have yet to optimize your website for mobile search, it isn’t too late to do so. Google has recently announced that they have delayed the launch of their mobile search priority to March of next year. It had been previously slated to start in September.

Below are excerpts taken directly from Google’s public announcement this week:

  • Our initial plan was to enable mobile-first indexing for all sites in Search in September 2020. We realize that in these uncertain times, it’s not always easy to focus on work as otherwise, so we’ve decided to extend the timeframe to the end of March 2021. At that time, we’re planning on switching our indexing over to mobile-first indexing.
  • In mobile-first indexing, we will only get the information of your site from the mobile version, so make sure Googlebot can see the full content and all resources there.You should use the same robots meta tags on the mobile version as those on the desktop version.
  • Lazy-loading is more common on mobile than on desktop, especially for loading images and videos. In particular, avoid lazy-loading your primary content based on user interactions (like swiping, clicking, or typing), because Googlebot won’t trigger these user interactions.
  • If your mobile version has less content than your desktop version, you should consider updating your mobile version so that its primary content (the content you want to rank with, or the reason for users to come to your site) is equivalent. Only the content shown on the mobile version will be used for indexing and ranking in Search. If it’s your intention that the mobile version has less content than the desktop version, your site may lose some traffic when Google enables mobile-first indexing for your site, since Google won’t be able to get the full information anymore.
  • Don’t use images that are too small or have a low resolution on the mobile version. Small or low-quality images might not be selected for inclusion in Google Images, or shown as favorably when indexed.
  • If your site uses different image URLs for the desktop and mobile version, you may see a temporary traffic loss from Google Images while your site transitions to mobile-first indexing. This is because the image URLs on the mobile version are new to the Google indexing system, and it takes some time for the new image URLs to be understood appropriately. To minimize a temporary traffic loss from search, review whether you can retain the image URLs used by desktop.
  • Make sure to position videos and images in an easy to find location on the mobile version of your pages. Videos or images not placed well could affect user experience on mobile devices, making it possible that Google would not show these as visibly in search.

-Written by Kevin Sawyer