A small but steady stream of website owners are receiving a message from Google Search Console saying that “mobile-first indexing has been enabled” for their site. I monitor about 100 Google Search Console accounts, and have just seen the first such message, so don’t worry if you’re feeling left out. When you do get it, however, what will it mean?
Mobile sites differ from desktop ones, even if the content is the same (things get rearranged, even if content stays the same). Google traditionally indexed the desktop version of a site, so when mobile users clicked through from Google results, they may not have seen what the results promised – especially from the ‘snippets’ lifted from the pages. And we know that if there’s a mismatch, it can often lead to web users bouncing straight back to the search engine. Some sites are now seeing more traffic on mobile devices than on desktops, so it makes sense for Google to index the mobile version if possible, to give the majority of users a more ‘accurate’ experience.
What will the difference be, if Google starts indexing your site ‘mobile first’? Very little, I imagine. However, it’s worth being aware of how your site presents itself on mobile screens, and as I’ve said many times before, that presentation is a good place to start designing your site. It shouldn’t be an afterthought.
There’s a good article here if you want to read more.