Google completes the switch to mobile-first indexing

31 October 2023

In a world where the majority of clicks come from devices that fit in our pockets, Google has taken a decisive step: after nearly a 7-year journey, it has completed its transition to mobile-first indexing.

Since 2016, Google has been implementing this shift, which marks a revolution in the way websites are evaluated and ranked.

The implication is vast: now, the mobile version of your website is what Google crawls and considers when determining its position in search results. This means that the user experience on mobile devices is not just a convenience; it’s crucial for your business’s online visibility.

What is mobile-first indexing?

Mobile-first indexing is an initiative launched by Google in 2016, which involves indexing websites based on their mobile version.

Previously, the desktop version was prioritised, and the mobile version was considered secondary. However, with the increasing use of smartphones for internet browsing, Google decided mobile experience should come first when deciding how a website appears in search results.

This means that Google takes into account the content, structure, and usability of the mobile version of a webpage to determine its placement in organic searches.

What does mobile-first indexing mean for your business?

If your website’s mobile version is outdated, loads slowly, or, worse, is nonexistent, Google might perceive your website as less relevant or of lower quality compared to others that are well optimised for mobile.

Moreover, if people are searching for services or products like yours and encounter a difficult-to-navigate or slow website on their mobiles, they’ll likely turn to your competitors. This not only impacts your brand image but also your sales opportunities.

Specifically, if your mobile website is not optimized:

  • It may drop in Google’s search rankings, meaning when users search for keywords related to your business, your site might not appear on the first pages of results.
  • It could result in a decrease in web traffic. Fewer visits mean fewer chances to convert users into customers.
  • Even if users find your site, a poor mobile experience (text that’s difficult to read, inaccessible buttons, or a confusing page layout) can deter them from taking the desired action, such as completing a purchase or subscribing to a service.

Key steps to succeed in the mobile-first indexing era

To ensure you are in tune with this new era, you should:

  • Review your web design: Ensure your website is responsive. This means the design should be fluid and adapt perfectly to any screen size. Test on various devices to ensure a consistent user experience. You can try the Mobile Simulator Chrome extension to view your website on various devices.
  • Improve mobile experience: Every second counts. Optimise loading times, simplify menus, and ensure that buttons and links are easy to use on touchscreens. Intuitive navigation is key to keeping users engaged.
  • Test and adjust: Use tools like Google Lighthouse to understand how Google views your mobile page and make necessary adjustments.


Mobile-first indexing is not a passing trend but a reflection of current user behavior. It’s a wake-up call for all businesses that have yet to consider mobile optimisation as an integral part of their digital strategy.

Take the step and secure your place in organic search results. Contact us for a complete audit of your website and start your transformation towards a more mobile and successful future.

Mobile-first indexing FAQ2023-11-05T23:45:43+00:00

What is mobile-first indexing?

Mobile-first indexing is an initiative by Google to index and rank websites based on the content, structure, and usability of their mobile versions rather than their desktop versions. This shift prioritizes mobile user experience in search rankings due to the prevalent use of smartphones for internet access.

Why did Google implement mobile-first indexing?

Google implemented themobile-first indexing in response to the significant increase in mobile internet usage. The company recognized that a growing number of users access the web through mobile devices and decided that search results should prioritize websites that provide a superior mobile experience.

How does mobile-first indexing affect my website’s search ranking?

If your website’s mobile version is well-optimized for performance and user experience, it can positively influence your search rankings. Conversely, if your mobile site is outdated or provides a poor user experience, it may negatively impact your position in search results.

What happens if my mobile website is not optimized?

An unoptimized mobile website can lead to lower search rankings, reduced web traffic, and potentially fewer conversions. It can also harm the user experience, discouraging visitors from engaging with your content or completing desired actions like purchases or sign-ups.

How can I tell if my website is mobile-friendly?

You can use Google Lighthouse to check if your website meets the criteria for being mobile-friendly. The tool analyzes your site and provides feedback on how well it performs on mobile devices. You can also try the Mobile Simulator extension for Chrome.

What does it mean for a website to be “responsive”?

A responsive website is designed to automatically adjust and adapt its layout and elements to fit various screen sizes, providing an optimal viewing experience across different devices, from desktops to smartphones.

What are some key elements of a good mobile user experience?

Key elements of a good mobile user experience include fast loading times, simplified menus, easily clickable buttons, intuitive navigation, readable text, and accessible content that doesn’t require zooming or horizontal scrolling.

What steps can I take to optimize my website for mobile-first indexing?

To optimize your site for mobile-first indexing, ensure your website has a responsive design, improve mobile loading times, simplify navigation for touchscreens, and regularly test and adjust your site using mobile usability tools.

Is mobile-first indexing just a temporary trend?

No, mobile-first indexing is a permanent change that reflects the ongoing shift in user behavior towards mobile internet browsing. It is crucial for businesses to adapt to this change to maintain and improve their search engine visibility and performance.

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