Google has finally mandated that all new websites must be mobile-friendly to feature in its searches. The search giant will first look for and then index the websites’ mobile version. This is apparently the most profound decision that will significantly impact the websites that still do not prioritize optimizing their platforms for smartphones and other portable devices.
Google has been gradually granting ever more importance to websites that optimize their content for mobile screens. Today the search company has announced that mobile-first indexing will now be the default for all new web domains as of July 1, 2019. This essentially means, whenever a new website is registered and populated with content, it will be Google’s smartphone Googlebot that will first crawl through looking for data and indexing the same. The bot, obviously optimized for preferring mobile-friendly content, will index the pages. This is critically important to websites because this data will define their standing as well as a presence in Google’s search results.
Google has been slowly but steadily steering and urging websites to optimize their platforms for smartphones since 2016. In 2017, the search company started experimenting and rolling out mobile-first indexing for a few websites. However, by 2018, Google’s need to have webpages completely suited for small screens became clear. Last year was pivotal for the web in general because half the pages on the web were indexed by Google’s smartphone Googlebot.
Interestingly, it was way back in 2015, when Google realized that the majority of Google users usually initiated their searches from their mobile devices. In other words, more users now searched from their portable devices as compared to their workstations or PCs. This clearly meant it was the mobile versions of the websites and not their desktop variants that were critical for searches.
Mobile-first indexing isn’t the only method Google has adopted to offer services to its ever-increasing user base that solely relies on smartphones. Google has been steadily rewarding websites that had prioritized their mobile-friendly versions. Not only did Google boost the ranking of mobile-optimized websites, it even added ‘page loading speed’ as one of the important parameters to help determine a page’s mobile search ranking. Essentially, any content that didn’t load quickly on a mobile device or wasn’t correctly optimized was down-ranked.
Announcing the same, Google categorically noted, “We’re happy to see how the web has evolved from being focused on the desktop to becoming mobile-friendly, and now to being mostly crawlable and indexable with mobile user-agents.”