Long-awaited, Google’s mobile-first index has begun to roll out slowly. Though we don’t have a timeline yet on when implementation will be fully completed, an announcement is expected in the near future.
It is not known how many sites have switched to a mobile-first indexing process however it is suspected that it is more than ‘just a few’. In an effort to guard against any issues, Google has committed to rolling out the mobile-first index slowly, testing it every step of the way to ensure it is long-term feasible. Many did not expect the rollout to begin until 2018 however it is expected that positive test results has meant Google getting a jump-start on implementation.
Google has set up ‘classifiers’ to determine whether a given site is ready for a switch-over to a mobile-first index. These classifiers are designed to compare desktop and mobile versions of a site, analyzing content, links, schema, and multimedia among other factors. When there is a 100 percent matchup, it’s likely that site will be taken over to a mobile-first index. If a site reaches an 80 percent matchup, a webmaster may expect communications from Google encouraging changes that need to be made to bring a site closer to 100 percent.
The whole purpose of a slow roll-out like this is to test the existing infrastructure. Tests thus far appear to be going well. Gradually, more sites can be expected to be welcomed in to the mobile-first index. Webmasters can expect to receive communications from Google in the coming year regarding a site’s inclusion in the mobile-first index. The company is also working on a blog post that is expected to be published at some point in the future. This blog post is expected to help webmasters and SEO specialists better understand the mobile-first indexing process. That said, the company has yet to provide an exact ETA for the rollout or blog post though it has been confirmed by Google that there is ongoing development on these points.
The sites that are equipped with mobile versions and mobile-friendly content will be the ones that succeed in this new Google search marketplace. The sites that are primarily desktop-based may see themselves rank lower in accordance with the impending mobile-first index standards. The message that this should send out to website design specialists is to begin adapting to a mobile-first mindset when it comes to building sites.
As we increasingly move towards a landscape where mobile matters and desktop versions of websites have less of an importance than ever before, a website is going to need to focus on making an impact on mobile platforms. Images, textual content, and graphics all need to be optimized for mobile settings.
Having an underdeveloped mobile site and hanging your hat on a killer desktop version is not going to work in the post-2017 internet. This change has long been suspected of coming. Now it’s here. A mobile-first index is no longer the future of search rankings. It is the present and it’s now up to sites to build their coding appropriate to these new mobile-first standards.