Google mobile-first indexing and what it means for your website

Lots of our clients have been asking about what the mobile-first indexing that Google has been rolling out means for their website and their ranking in Google.

You may have noticed in the past couple of weeks that your rankings may have been moving up and down as Google rolls out this indexing method that also affects their ranking algorithm and in turn, your rankings in Google.

Why is Google indexing mobile versions of websites first?

Well, this change has been in the pipeline for a while now as Google has known for a long time that searches from mobile devices make up a larger proportion than desktop searches and have done since back in 2015.

Since more and more people are searching for answers, products and services on Google via their mobile devices, and Google’s revenue model is predominately selling advertising via Adwords (soon to be re-named Google Ads), it makes sense they’re optimising their engine for mobile devices. Hence why they’re starting to index mobile versions of websites in favour of desktop versions.

When is Google rolling out mobile-first indexing?

Google officially started rolling out this indexing method in March 2018, however we’ve only really starting seeing clients get messages about this in Google Webmaster Tools in July this year.

If you’re wondering what these messages say, here’s what’s sent out via GWT:-

Mobile-first indexing enabled for
To owner of,

This means that you may see more traffic in your logs from Googlebot Smartphone. You may also see that snippets in Google Search results are now generated from the mobile version of your content.

Background: Mobile-first indexing means that Googlebot will now use the mobile version of your site for indexing and ranking, to better help our (primarily mobile) users find what they're looking for. Google’s crawling, indexing, and ranking systems have historically used the desktop version of your site's content, which can cause issues for mobile searchers when the desktop version differs from the mobile version. Our analysis indicates that the mobile and desktop versions of your site are comparable.

For more information:

  • Monitor your index coverage using the Index Status report.
  • Monitor your impressions, clicks, and site appearance using the Performance report.
  • If you have any additional questions, drop by our Webmaster forum for more help - mention message type [WNC-20058194] or our public events.

What does this mean for my website?

If you’re a Marketeam client, there’s nothing you really need to do because all websites that have been built in the past 4-5 years have been built using responsive design. This means that Google will see both the mobile version of your website and the desktop version of your website as the same.

If your website is older than 5 years old, there’s a good chance your website may either be using a mobile template or isn’t mobile friendly. If you would like to check if your website is mobile friendly you can always use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing tool or if your website has been set up in Google Webmaster Tools you can go to the Mobile Usability tab to check on the status of the mobile version of your website.

Obviously the visitors you get to your website and the devices they use will depend greatly on your audience. For example, businesses whose customers skew towards a younger audience are more likely to have more users visiting their website using a mobile device.

Given the vast and rapid spread mobile device usage across the globe (the first iPhone was only released 11 years ago – think about that for a minute!) it’s important that your website is optimised for mobile devices to ensure you’re getting the most traction, from the widest audience you can from your website.

If you would like to talk with Marketeam about how your website can be improved, made mobile-friendly or upgraded, give us a call today on (07) 3882 3375.