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Are you ready for the Mobile-First Index?

     
11:04 am on Jul 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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What is the Mobile-First Index? The mobile-first index is a change in the way Google is going to index content.

Currently, Google looks at the desktop version of a site and then bases how it will rank the mobile site according to that information. Once this update rolls out, the opposite of that will happen. Google will begin looking at your mobile site and from that, will rank the desktop site.

[searchenginewatch.com...]

Google estimates the Mobile-First Index will be in effect by the end of 2017.
4:10 am on July 9, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Brick'n Mortar stores should also pay attention to the upcoming Mobile-First index.

• 72% of customers who perform local search for products visited a store within five miles.

• 30% of mobile searches are related to a location.

• More Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the U.S. and Japan

• 49% of B2B researchers who use their mobile devices for product research do so while at work.

• 65% of smartphone users agree that when conducting a search on their smartphones, they look for the most relevant information regardless of the company providing the information.

source: hubspot.com
3:02 pm on July 9, 2017 (gmt 0)

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JS Harris, the cookie duration for our top affiliate program is only for the browser session, but that's been true all along. (And it's pretty typical for the category.)
4:36 pm on July 9, 2017 (gmt 0)

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just a series of books, neither favoring desktop nor mobile


I would say that *does* favor mobile. In fact, I can think of few products that favor mobile more than books. It's a very simple, and presumably not super expensive product.

By contrast, I'm thinking of a complex product with lots of choices and the average purchase is about $1000. That's a lot harder to sell on mobile.
7:18 pm on July 9, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I would say that *does* favor mobile. In fact, I can think of few products that favor mobile more than books. It's a very simple, and presumably not super expensive product.

I think that, as with most things, it depends. Take something like hotel bookings: A person who's planning an expensive honeymoon halfway around the world may be less inclined to book a hotel room on a smartphone than someone who's on the road from Omaha to Denver and decides to stop for the night in Ogallala.

IMO, context or "situational factors" shouldn't be ignored.
6:58 pm on July 10, 2017 (gmt 0)

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A person who's planning an expensive honeymoon halfway around the world may be less inclined to book a hotel room on a smartphone than someone who's on the road from Omaha to Denver


Bingo! Almost the exact case I was thinking of.
- the honeymooners are buying on desktop (or possibly even through a travel agent depending on which country they come from - some places still use a lot of travel agents)
- the other ones buy on the Expedia app, not your responsive website
7:23 pm on July 10, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Our website is not mobile friendly. Our product is not mobile friendly. When desktop (laptop) goes away I will get to spend more time on the golf course. Already there about 6 days a week so maybe I'll just buy a course and live there.
9:38 am on July 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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My websites are not mobile and just wonder of it is time to take action or not because i read this on [searchengineland.com...]

"What if I don’t have a mobile website?

Google said not to worry. Although Google wants you to have a mobile site, it will crawl your desktop version instead. Google said, “If you only have a desktop site, we’ll continue to index your desktop site just fine, even if we’re using a mobile user agent to view your site.”

If you have a mobile site, then you need to make sure the content and links on the mobile site are similar enough to the desktop version so that Google can consume the proper content and rank your site as well as it did by crawling your desktop site."

I have excellent SERP for a years (ranking same on mobile and desktop Google search) and about 1/3 of mobile visitors. I guess nobody knows but if you have a lot visitors, a lot quality links, people like your content, good and stable positions for a years and website is not mobile? What then....
9:54 am on July 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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dolcevita - that article is close to a year old. Things are moving forward. Yes, it's true. If you have no responsive version, your desktop site will be used for ranking, even after the Mobile-first Index goes into affect.

All indication is desktop only sites will not get the ranking boost that respinsive sites will get.

But know that you'll need a responsive layout to be included in the index at some point. No one really knows how long, but why wait? Be proactive and get it done .
10:32 am on July 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I'd imagine that the SERPS will all be personalised in the end, like it is with everything else
If people are searching on mobile they'll get what's best for mobile sites. If they're always searching on desktop then they'll get what's best for desktop sites.
It wouldn't make sense for google to continue serving up mobile sites if the user is always on desktop.
10:52 am on July 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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londrum - Google has been pretty clear. This is why they are pushing responsive layouts. One site that responds to the user's screen size.

Desktop sales continue to decline. Mobile is now the majority of users. More searches are done from mobile devices than desktops since the end of 2016.
11:30 am on July 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Further to keyplyr, Google have stated they are not planning on maintaining two indexes.

There is the mobile-first index, and I understand (though I have seen no source, just reports), a "supplementary" index.

I would not like to be solely in the latter.

ETA - Seems my recollection was formed from this article [seroundtable.com]

Feel free to take a different reading from it
11:41 am on July 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I don't mean two indexes, I just mean the serps will be personalised, like everything else.
They don't maintain three indexes for people in England, Scotland and Wales, but they still see different results (I assume). That's how it will be in the future for desktop and mobile users, once we've got past this phase of google trying to push everyone in a particular direction (how many times have we seen them doing that over the years?)
12:17 pm on July 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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No sure, the results will be tailored for peoples' devices- they are already.

I meant that the underlying data will not be "tailored", so as webmasters we need to consider the mobile content to be the core ranking version.
1:10 pm on July 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I meant that the underlying data will not be "tailored", so as webmasters we need to consider the mobile content to be the core ranking version.

It probably isn't that simple. Take a site that has separate desktop and mobile versions of its pages. The desktop pages have been around longer, so they have more inbound links. Is Google going to ignore the desktop pages' inbound links? That strikes me as being pretty unlikely, especially if desktop and mobile pages are correctly configured with link rel="alternate" and link rel="canonical" statements that join them at the hip.
1:58 pm on July 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Is Google going to ignore the desktop page's inbound links? That strikes me as being pretty unlikely

A lot to unpack there.

First up, the context of my comment was in the inadvisability of leaving a desktop-only version of a page, not "dual page types, reciprocally mapped". But anyway, yes I would propose that, insofar as links remain a core part of the algorithm, Google will not count links for desktop as credit for mobile. But, I think links will be less valuable simply because there will be less of them in the wild. Some other method will be needed to score documents, perhaps built around brand signals, search volumes or non-link citations. I have no idea how this will work, or if I'm in the right ballpark, or if I've even got the right sport.

I, in common with everyone else, have no idea how Google will treat the situation of non-responsive, reciprocally mapped pages. It could be that Google swaps out the mobile and puts in the desktop, without scoring the desktop page (unlikely). It could be "personalisation" piece automatically excludes documents exclusively for mobile and scores only responsive pages.

It may be the desktop-only supplemental index is ignored for mobile, but fully added-in for desktop, enjoying the same likelihood of being returned in a desktop search. Or it may only be surfaced in the case of poor "prime" results.

There are many, many variations on how this could play out. But my main takeaway since this was announced 9 months ago was that anything non-responsive was going to be second-class at best.
2:43 pm on July 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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keyplyr - I can not believe that mobile factor suddenly should become the most important SEO factor? Take the situation where the site have excellent link power, great content, is there for a years and all other thousands less and more important SEO's factor.

So you gonna to tell me that perfectly designed responsive mobile sites with crappy content and less powerful backlinks gonna to score better than sites who is optimized for desktop and not responsive/not mobile?

It is very hard to believe in such a scenario. And It will be difficult to judge at this moment because the question is how strong will be mobile factor comparing with all other SEO factors who are important for good SERP.

Right now is influence of any mobile factor on SERP (if it exist at all) nihil, almost 0.
4:32 pm on July 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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“What if I don’t have a mobile website?”
But, but, but that premise is nonsensical--and it was nonsensical a year ago, or even five years ago. Unless you flat-out deny access to mobile user-agents, everyone has "a mobile website": it's whatever is seen at your URL by mobile devices. What’s the point of the binary split into “desktop site” and “mobile site”?
4:46 pm on July 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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What’s the point of the binary split into “desktop site” and “mobile site”?

But what does it look like when rendered on their preferred screen size.

If it looks like a bad user experience, it will be "graded" as such.

This, I think, is a type of madness. Forget the content, forget the links. If your site is a bad user experience in the judgement of Google, it will have a problem. The size of the problem is currently unclear.

@dolcevita expects it to be a small problem. I can't agree- Google spends a lot of time saying that it's all about the user. If they think the user will be horrified to be referred to a given site, Google will not so refer them.

I disagree with Google on this. Strongly disagree. But they said jump, and my company is currently spending time evaluating just how high we need to go.
7:19 pm on July 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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keyplyr - I can not believe that mobile factor suddenly should become the most important SEO factor?
I don't know exactly what you mean by "mobile factor." Go read what Google is saying about the Mobile-first Index. They say they will rank desktop on the merits of the mobile site. That simple.

Google is STRONGLY urging responsive layout... One site that serves all devices (and sorry Lucy24, it has to be a responsive layout not just a desktop that doesn't block mobile. Googlebot can tell the difference.)

With a responsive layout you don't loose any backlinks and properly done, you should keep all your rich content. This is what Google will rank in the upcoming Mobile-first Index.
8:37 pm on July 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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keyplyr - It is not so simple.

So we can forget 1000...... known and unknown SEO factors, backlinks and actually everything regarding SEO because even if you have crappy responsive websites you will score better than 20 year old non responsive websites in same niche?

And how Google gonna to rank desktop websites if it is not responsive?Will it be penalized, disappeared or its not gonna to happen anything?

And what about
What if I don’t have a mobile website?

Google said not to worry. Although Google wants you to have a mobile site, it will crawl your desktop version instead. Google said, “If you only have a desktop site, we’ll continue to index your desktop site just fine, even if we’re using a mobile user agent to view your site.”
8:37 pm on July 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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What I meant, keyplyr, was that the term “mobile site” is meaningless because all sites are mobile sites. If a particular site's design requires a 1000-plus-sized viewport, then for increasing numbers of users it's a terrible site and should be evaluated as such. But that isn't strictly a mobile issue. A site that makes assumptions about the user's viewport is often a terrible site even when the user is in fact on a desktop--just not the precise browser, used in the precise way, that the designers envisioned. (Sorry, designers, but I'm not going to resize my browser window just because you've never heard of a unit of measurement other than the pixel.)
9:17 pm on July 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I am betting Lucy24 is on a mac, I don't think windows users resize their browser window at all. If only there was some javascript that could automatically resize Lucy24 browser to the size I designed the site for :)
9:54 pm on July 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@dolcevita - please go read what Google actually says.

You are wasting your time complaining. Time better spent preparing for this very significant algo ranking change.

all sites are mobile sites
Not according to Google. Google has been very clear what it considers a "mobile" site. Lucy24, I explained this earlier in the thread where you asked the question:
what is a mobile site?
There are 3 different classes of what SE's consider a mobile page/site:

• mobile friendly - the bare minimum. The site passes the mobile-friendly test, image sizes are within limits, content font size can be read.

• mobile sites - a separate version of the desktop built for mobile often accessed by sub-directory: mobile.example.com or m.example.com.

• responsive layout - currently the recommended version which adjusts to all screen sizes.

Responsive layout is the best choice. One site that works for all screens. All backlinks are maintained. If done well, all content remains so it can maintain current ranking in SERP for both the desktop & the mobile searches... but this algo update will have only *one* index... the Mobile-first Index.
12:54 am on July 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I am betting Lucy24 is on a mac, I don't think windows users resize their browser window at all.

###, is that really true? I know my next-door neighbor uses the full-screen option (which I loathe on anything larger than an iPad) but I thought it was a matter of a computer-illiterate person using their browser's default setting.

In any case, what difference does it make if the viewport is 960 pixels because the device won't go any bigger, or because the user has limited eyesight and has to use colossal pixels*, or just because the user darn well feels like it?

See, keyplyr, this is all relevant. It's just the word "mobile" that's such a red herring. (And, for the two people who haven't figured it out yet: Yes, I absolutely think responsive design is A Good Thing. We're just squabbling over terminology.) If I arrived at a website that, for real, not in jest, forcibly resized my browser window, I would be out of there before your ads had time to load. In other words, exactly the same reaction as when a site chooses to omit a basic declaration like “width=device-width" because “well, tough, they can always zoom in”.

Besides, I just don't have the kind of content that works on a huge viewport so the whole thing is no skin off my nose.

* pixel as a unit of measurement
1:05 am on July 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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See, keyplyr, this is all relevant. It's just the word "mobile" that's such a red herring.
"mobile" is not a "red herring." I have explained it twice now. In all due respect Lucy, it's only you that is trying to make that point. Google is clear what it considers a mobile site.

However, you could start a new thread about your concerns with how Google determines what is mobile. I think there are a couple older threads discussing it, but it's been a while and Google has been more explicit as of late.
1:14 am on July 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Keyplyr - What i read on official blog is what i have citied
[webmasters.googleblog.com...]
1:23 am on July 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@dolcevita - yes. I'm aware of what Google has published. It's your other comments complaining that...
if you have crappy responsive websites you will score better than 20 year old non responsive websites in same niche?
So you gonna to tell me that perfectly designed responsive mobile sites with crappy content and less powerful backlinks gonna to score better than sites who is optimized for desktop and not responsive/not mobile?
It is very hard to believe in such a scenario. And It will be difficult to judge at this moment because the question is how strong will be mobile factor comparing with all other SEO factors who are important for good SERP

So the Mobile-first Index FAQ [searchengineland.com] answers all that, i.e. Google will rank both the mobile & the desktop version using the mobile site... so build your mobile site well (not "crappy") and you'll be fine ;)


[fix typo]

[edited by: keyplyr at 1:39 am (utc) on Jul 14, 2017]

1:36 am on July 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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There's a lot of mountain being made out of this molehill.

The only "change" is that g has recognized that more searches are coming from "non-desktop" (ie, "mobile") devices than ever before. To accommodate that growing audience they will, sometime in 2017 create a "mobile first" index which caters to those devices.

To continue playing to largest audience, their best suggestion for webmasters is RWD (responsive) which fits any device. This is actually pretty good advice for anyone. Meanwhile, g will continue to index the web the way it is, again what is expected.

The "ready" is merely a warning that AT SOME FUTURE TIME sites that are not responsive to all devices might not get the same serp love as before ... and that's called a head's up.

What I am hearing is that some webmasters have coded themselves into difficult to change layouts, and in that regard I have some empathy, but no sympathy. Change to RWD or lose a growing like a juggernaut audience using small devices. It's that simple.
1:36 am on July 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Keyplyr - Depend on which part do you.like more I.e. "If you only have a desktop site, we’ll continue to index your desktop site just fine, even if we’re using a mobile user agent to view your site."
1:44 am on July 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Tangor - I agree with everything what you wrote and can find myself into the last part of your post :).
This 78 message thread spans 3 pages: 78