How Does Google’s Mobile-First Indexing System Impact Your SEO Rankings?


As an SEO specialist, you toiled hard with your clients and helped them get more and more customers. To do so, you almost learned each and every aspect of search engine optimization (SEO). You even left no stone unturned in understanding, learning and implementing any new algorithm by Google. You almost mastered the art of SEO, but all of sudden there was a boom in the mobile world. The tiny and limited featured mobile handset was replaced with an advanced and features-packed smartphone. And today, we have feature-packed smartphones, which have completely revolutionized the way of talking, chatting, messaging, voice calling, shopping and many more. Seeing this huge transition from tiny handset to smartphone, Google too changed and introduced its new algorithm, mobile-first-indexing. The search engine giant decided so seeing the big leap of people from desktops to smartphones.

Google observed:

  1. 3 out of every 5 searches happen on mobile, and mobile far outpaces desktop as the number one method of searching
  2. 55% of conversions (store visit, phone call or purchase) occur within an hour
  3. On an average, each mobile search generates nearly 2 follow-up actions
  4. 77% of mobile searches take place at home or at work; 17% on the go
  5. Shopping queries are 2x more likely to be in store

What is Google Mobile First Indexing System?

Well, the Google Mobile First Indexing System is actually an upgrade to its earlier indexing practice. The system has been rolled out mainly to improve the mobile user experience. So, this clearly means that Google will now only index the sites that are mobile-friendly. But it never means that your desktop friendly website will be completely ignored and discarded. As discussed, the search engine giant had to take this decision taking into account the shift of users from desktop to mobile phones. This way, introducing mobile-first-indexing had become the need of the hour for Google. With the rollout of this updated version of mobile-first-indexing, Google aims to prioritize the mobile results. But it is to note that the mobile-first indexing is not a separate index; rather Google only obtains one index from which it delivers the results.

So, some of the major things you need to know about Google’s Mobile-First Index include:

  • This system will not do any significant change in the existing ranks of your site.
  • It does not require you to do any change in your responsive site or a dynamic serving site. Reason being there is similarity in the primary content and markup on desktop and mobile site.
  • In case, there is markup and primary content on your site changing from desktop and mobile, it is a must that you make the necessary changes in your website and bring Google’s updated indexing algorithm into practice.
  • It doesn’t require you to separately define structured markup for both the desktop and mobile site.
  • You must verify your website’s accessibility to Googlebot, leveraging robots.txt testing tools.
  • Conclusively, it requires you to add and verify the mobile version of your site.

Does Google’s mobile-first-indexing system really affect your site?

If you have a responsive design website, there is no need to worry. But you must make sure to optimize your site’s content in view of the mobile platform, and that your load times get prioritized. If you are having a separate mobile site including differentiated content, it could be a little trickier. Mobile-first-indexing comes with Googlebot that crawls the mobile version of your website, thus affecting your rankings and even bringing down your SEO rankings. Fortunately, Google brings to you a few important practices for mobile-first indexing to make sure that your SEO doesn’t get affected and that your rankings remain stable.

Google says:

  • Your mobile website must have the same content as your desktop site.
  • Structured data should be present on both versions of your site.
  • Verify both versions of your site in Google Search Console.
  • Metadata should be present on both versions of the site.

Thus, Google’s mobile-first-indexing will not affect you if you have:

  • Dynamic serving, that is serving different content based on the user’s device
  • AMP and non-AMP versions
  • Responsive web design
  • Desktop only website
  • Canonical AMP
  • Separate URLs

Google’s mobile-first-indexing may influence your SEO rankings if your site:

  • Comes with separate URLs for mobile and desktop content
  • Dynamically serves content based on user device
  • Contains AMP versions of non-AMP Pages


Finally, if you want to stay running in the SEO field, better switch your desktop-friendly site to mobile-friendly, and much better if you have a responsive design website.