Mueller: Mobile-Friendliness Does Not Mean Ready For Mobile-First Indexing
Mobile SEO is a crucial part of web development as it ensures that readers accessing a website on their phones, tablets, or other mobile devices will have a good browsing experience. However, Google’s John Mueller recently told mobile SEO agencies and website owners that “mobile-friendliness” is not the same as “ready for mobile-first indexing”.
Before moving a website to the mobile-first index, Google will look at various criteria aside from mobile-friendliness. If the website does not meet the criteria, it will not be considered ready for the mobile-first index, even though it is already mobile-friendly.
Mueller discussed this matter in a response to a Reddit thread. The original poster asked about the reasons for Google using a desktop crawler for a mobile-friendly website.
Google uses different web crawlers, and which one they use depends on whether a website is in the regular index or the mobile-first index. SEOs and webmasters can check Google Search Console to whether the search engine is using the desktop or mobile version of Googlebot when crawling their site.
For instance, if a report reads “Primary crawler: Smartphone”, it indicates that the website has been moved to Google’s mobile-first indexing. When a website is moved to mobile-first indexing, the Search Console report should show Googlebot’s mobile crawler instead of the desktop version.
In the Reddit user’s case, their Search Console report shows that Google uses the desktop crawler for their website despite it being mobile-friendly – a sure sign that tells them their site has not been moved to mobile-first indexing.
According to Mueller, it could be that the problem lies with the content. One important factor that Google looks at before moving a site to mobile-first indexing is identical content shown on all devices. If there is critical content shown in the desktop version but not in the mobile version, then the search engine will not consider it suitable for mobile-first indexing.
He also emphasised that just because a website is mobile-friendly does not necessarily mean that it is already suitable for mobile indexing. He said that mobile-friendliness only makes a website easy to use on mobile devices, but it’s still possible that the mobile version lacks content. For this reason, mobile SEO agencies and website owners must ensure that all crucial content is shown to users on all devices.
There may also be minor discrepancies that could cause Google algorithms to scrutinise a website and prevent it from moving to mobile-first indexing. For instance, the search engine held back some sites because they did not contain the exact number of related items linked on a post or product page. Although there is a difference in content, it does not really change how the site is presented overall in search results.
However, there could also be differences that actually matter. These may include items missing from one site version compared to the other, like images, structured data, internal links, and so on. Mueller encourages the whole SEO community to take a deep look at these factors so that they will not miss anything.
Mobile SEO is crucial for online businesses nowadays because, chances are, a huge portion of their target audience will be looking for products and services on their phones and other mobile devices. SEOs and webmasters that still overly focus on their website’s desktop versions need to adapt to this consumer behaviour if they want to see the best results.
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