Mobile First Indexing Announced for the Entire Web

6th March 2020 | | Internet, Search Engine Optimisation, Web design

Mobile first indexing was first introduced with various experimental testing for a couple years until the roll-out begun. This was a milestone algorithm update for Google, Webmasters, and the norm of website designs as a whole.

It caused a shift in how websites are to be used, the layouts, functionality, and Search Engine Optimisation. This is timeline of the process of the birth Mobile-first indexing to how websites are today.

  • November 4th, 2016 – First testing of altering the Google Index to be mobile-first.
  • December 18th, 2017 – Google begins evaluating sites for readiness and cautiously rolls out mobile-first indexing to small group of websites.
  • December 19th, 2018 – Site owners notified via Search Console when their site is moved to mobile-first indexing. Told to prepare structured data and alt-attributes consistency if using mobile version of domain.
  • March 26th, 2018 – Algorithm update is rolled out more broadly.
  • May 28th, 2019 – Mobile-first indexing is enabled by default for all new, previously unknown to Google, websites starting July 1st, 2019. Older sites are still being evaluated and changed to new indexing if deemed ready.
  • March 4th, 2020 – Mobile-first indexing will be enabled for all websites starting September 2020.


Site Owners: What you need to know…

Firstly, what does “mobile-first indexing” mean? It refers to how Google understands your website, the search engine have ‘crawl bots‘ that are essentially tiny inspectors that visit your website and evaluate the performance, relevancy, structure, and many more features that make a site what it is. These evaluations are what effect rankings and if your site passes tests, such as being “mobile friendly”.

The checklist of ensuring your site is ready by September for the update:

  • Do not use primary website features that require user action to load. Googlebot requires being able to freely crawl your content.
  • Use clear and meaningful headings, keep in mind the screen size on mobile is much smaller in comparison to desktop.
  • Ensure any ads are not blocking content, follow the Better Ads Standard to ensure compliance.
  • Use high quality images, ones that are too small or have a low resolution will negatively affect mobile interaction.
  • Make sure mobile page content quality is as good as the desktop resolution, do not cut off important content when the site is bought in for mobile view.
  • Place video in a prominent position when viewed on mobile. Do lot make users scroll down too far to view any videos.
  • Make the “tap targeting” size a good proportion with finger size in mind. Having many buttons close together on mobile will make it difficult for the user to select the one they want.
  • Last but certainly not least, the most important factor is to have the website “mobile responsive”. Google recommends AGAINST having a separate domain for a mobile version of the website; known as a “m-dot” site; e.g.

Mobile responsive is when the site structure and its elements come together when you pull the screen in. This accustoms the site automatically for all variations of screen sizes, and once it breaks down to common mobile resolutions the structure changes to a more convenient experience for mobile users. For example;

My site doesn’t tick all the above!

There is a lot to this algorithm update, and it’s HUGE for the search engine and your website. It’s been known for a while now that users running websites optimised and providing good experience on mobile have been topping the rankings. It’s a no brainer, users will not spend time on a site that is difficult to navigate, and in this day and age they’re not limited on choice.

If your website is not optimised for mobile-first indexing, or hasn’t been updated since 2017 then it’s highly recommended to consider your action plan before September 2020. If you’re looking for guidance then feel free to have a no-obligation chat with our website consultant or call on 01202 677 277, we’ll be more than happy to steer you in the right direction.

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