Google advise to switch your m-dot domain to responsive before the mobile-first index rollout. Plus, they say there might not be just one launch day, and could roll out piecemeal as sites are ready for the change.
Doesn’t mean anything to you? OK, here’s what all this means.
Back in November 2016, Google announced a Mobile-First index initiative.
Google want to make searching easier, it’s kind of their job! So they want their index and results to represent the majority of their users (mobile searchers!). They’ve already started to use the mobile version of the web to power their primary search engine index.
What If I Don’t Have A Mobile Site?
Don’t panic is the advice from Google. Of course, they want you to get one, but they will crawl your desktop version.
But There’s Less Content On My Mobile Site?
Maybe panic a bit. This is why they’ve issued to advice to move to a responsive mobile site. That way the content is the same on a page-by-page basis. This is the safest way of doing this.
The mobile pages should be fully equivalent in content & functionality regardless of indexing, right? Why wait to fix that? Users care too.
— John ☆.o(≧▽≦)o.☆ (@JohnMu) June 19, 2017
What About Hidden Content?
If you’ve got expandable content in tabs, accordions or expandable boxes etc… this will be given full weight if it’s meant to improve the user experience. It makes more sense on mobile than it does on desktop.
Are My Rankings Going To Drastically Change?
Overall, no it shouldn’t change things. That’s not Google’s aim.
When’s This Happening?
Well, we did say not to panic, as it doesn’t look like this is coming out until early 2018. That said, Google won’t give us a definitive answer on the rollout date and it might not even be one date, as we mentioned earlier. So given that they’ve given us the heads up, it’s time to get things sorted.
We’re planning on switching sites over as we see they’re ready. It’s unlikely that we’ll have a single “launch date”. Details still in work.
— John ☆.o(≧▽≦)o.☆ (@JohnMu) June 20, 2017
Can I Check How Google Sees My Mobile Pages?
Yes, you can use the Fetch and Render tool in the Google Search Console. Make sure to specify mobile:smartphone – take a look at the preview after the Fetch and Render is complete. If something is missing, fix it. Simples. Then check again.
Will Google Have Different Indexes for Mobile & Desktop?
In the future, there should be only one index, based on mobile content. During this change, there will be two.
Paul Haahr a Top Ranking Engineer at Google said,
.@BermanHale The blog post is pretty clear: “our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps.”
— Paul Haahr (@haahr) November 5, 2016
Will Links and Rankings Change?
Mobile content tends to have fewer links than desktop (it’s natural, we don’t want users tripping up over lots of links while they’re swiping). Google said they are still testing, so it isn’t 100 percent clear. Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes said, “I don’t want to say anything definite about links yet. It’s too early for that cos things are very much in motion.”
So What’s All The M-Dot and Responsive Stuff About?
This is one for your webmaster. During a “webmaster office hours” video (about 25 mins in), Google said that if you are planning to migrate your m-dot domain to a fully responsive website, you should do it before the index goes live.
Even back in 2012 experts were declaring m-dot websites a dead end. M-Dot sites came about when mobile browsing was new. They meant you had to have 2 URLs as they were a separate site entirely. You could adapt the mobile site without compromising your desktop site and they were relatively cheap to implement.
As smartphones emerged and became more complex, responsive sites became the preferred choice – they take your main site’s content and work from one URL and one codebase. It’s more sophisticated and it allows for better SEO and social sharing.