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What are you expecting from the "Mobile-First Index" ?

     
10:45 pm on Aug 27, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Hi,

Additionally, to the Mobile-First Index topic [ [webmasterworld.com...] ], I thought it might also be interesting to know which are your hopes and expectations about it. If this is of no interest, a moderator can simply delete this topic, this won't hurt my feeling :)

I've always put a lot of time and efforts to optimize every single aspect of my sites. Constantly researching and optimizing the server configuration (OS and Web Server Software), optimizing my PHP code, over and over again, as well as the HTML and CSS code. Trying to make pages load (and show) as fast as possible with nice and easy to read layouts, adapted to all kind of screens. I keep making experimentation to refine this all the time, to try to find new "tricks". (actually, I am experimenting with the QUIC protocol for example)

So I hope that with the Mobile-First Index, all this is going to pay and be rewarded.

I know that lot of people are just using ready to use CMS, or even ready to use hosting services. So they might have no idea what I am talking about. But those running their own dedicated server/VPS and developing their sites all by themselves know all the work it requires, but also all the enjoyment of succeeding to achieved better performances.

Also, I hope it's going to get ride of all the scrapper sites. These sites which are just copying (for not saying stealing content), are serving static HTML pages often, but, they run on so cheap servers, hosted in far countries, that it makes them often very slow. So I hope this is going to penalize them again more. Same for sites which are hotliking images in mass.

So just to say, that I hope the Mobile-First Index is going to reward people who are attached and working hard to provide quality sites with user experience as their main target.
9:32 pm on Sept 4, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Except both those "really really really old sites " and "middle-aged ones" will likely get dropped-back in the SERP with the Mobile-First Index [webmasterworld.com] if they don't meet the mobile-friendly criteria required by the SEs.

Sure, for mobile searches. For searches on large-screen devices? I suspect not (because that would compromise the quality of search results, which Google may be loath to do) but we're all guessing at this point.

Side note: To expand on what lucy24 said, sites that were designed in the day of simple fluid layouts may be easier to make responsive than, say, sites from half a dozen years ago. Sometimes it can be as simple as tweaking a top menu and blocking a sidebar in CSS when a page is viewed on mobile devices.
9:54 pm on Sept 4, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Sure, for mobile searches.
Once more... the Mobile-First Index [webmasterworld.com] indexes from the mobile site, not the desktop anymore. So even if you are searching from a desktop, the index is built from the mobile versions. Mobile gets more weight. How much hasn't been disclosed yet.

Google did say however that for a time, if you only have a desktop version of your site, they'll use that. But just because you may be searching from a desktop computer, does not mean you will be given a desktop site. There will be only one index. Just like there is only one index now. The difference is, the Mobile-first Index will be built using mobile site data first.

sites that were designed in the day of simple fluid layouts may be easier to make responsive than, say, sites from half a dozen years ago. Sometimes it can be as simple as tweaking a top menu and blocking a sidebar in CSS when a page is viewed on mobile devices.
Agreed.

From my first sites in 1998, I've always designed fluid, expandable layouts. I never saw a benefit doing it any other way.

When I upgraded to responsive, I was pretty much set up. All I did was replace most tables with divs in the markup. The big job was all the CSS and of course the browser sniffing, which I rolled my own to cover more devices.
10:14 pm on Sept 4, 2017 (gmt 0)

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To be honest I think it makes perfect sense for future indexed to rank pages based on their mobile version because as of now mobile is overtaking the desktop. It's not something I like to see but it is happening. It will continue to happen so ranking pages based on desktop version seems less and less effective.

Google will be using their own traffic data to calculate the perfect time for mobile first to be rolled out.

Mack.
10:41 pm on Sept 4, 2017 (gmt 0)

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it makes perfect sense for future indexed to rank pages based on their mobile version because as of now mobile is overtaking the desktop.
And has for the last year...
Internet usage by mobile and tablet devices exceeded desktop worldwide for the first time in October [2016] according to independent web analytics company StatCounter
Mobile Surpasses Desktop in Search [gs.statcounter.com]
10:47 pm on Sept 4, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Once more... the Mobile-First Index [webmasterworld.com] indexes from the mobile site, not the desktop anymore. So even if you are searching from a desktop, the index is built from the mobile versions.

On the other hand, there's this from Google:

"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."

And there's this item (regarding a talk by Gary Illyes of Google) from a more recent Search Engine Land article:

"He also assured the audience that Google’s eventual switch to a mobile-first index doesn’t mean that desktop content will stop ranking. 'Mobile-first means mobile first. It only means that we’ll look for mobile content first,' IIllyes said."

In other words, "mobile first" doesn't mean "mobile only," and from what I've read, "mobile first" has more to do with crawling than with ranking (i.e., it doesn't mean all the mobile pages will be at the top and all of the desktop pages will be after page 50 of the results).

Finally, the apparent motive behind a "mobile first" index was spelled out in Google's original Webmaster blog announcement:

"...our ranking systems still typically look at the desktop version of a page’s content to evaluate its relevance to the user. This can cause issues when the mobile page has less content than the desktop page because our algorithms are not evaluating the actual page that is seen by a mobile searcher."

After reading this, it would appear to me that the "mobile first" index is as much about discouraging stripped-down mobile experiences as anything else. In other words, as more people use mobile, sites that deliver mobile versions of their pages (whether separately or through responsive design) need to make sure that their mobile pages and users aren't being treated as afterthoughts.
8:07 am on Sept 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@EG, I extract a completely different meaning from your selected quotes. I'm not necessarily saying your interpretation is wrong, just that it is possible that you are projecting what you think should happen versus what Google seems to be prepping us for. Sticking exclusively to your quotes, but with my emphasis...
Once more... the Mobile-First Index indexes from the mobile site, not the desktop anymore. So even if you are searching from a desktop, the index is built from the mobile versions.
On the other hand, there's this from Google:

"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."

Technical word: index.

I'm not trying to teach you to suck eggs (not sure if that translates to the non-British audience) but that is NOT the same as "return it for a query". It means scoring it as a document. It will then be equally available for mobile or desktop queries. Then note the original qualifier: "If you ONLY have a desktop site". Unpacking the implicit statement, that means (per keyplyr)
    "We will build our index from the mobile site. If there is no mobile site then we will, with much reluctance, use the desktop site. Just as the mobile page will be the only scored document for compliant sites, the desktop page will be the only scored document for your deviant site. For now. But repent and conform before it's too late"
To be fair, there may be some embellishment there.
"He also assured the audience that Google’s eventual switch to a mobile-first index doesn’t mean that desktop content will stop ranking. 'Mobile-first means mobile first. It only means that we’ll look for mobile content first,' IIllyes said."
You seem to read this as
    "We'll index mobile first, then the desktop, and include both"
Whereas I, and others, read that as
    "Desktop-only is not dead. We will check for mobile, and stop if we find it. If not, we will use the only version available; desktop"

In other words, "mobile first" doesn't mean "mobile only," and from what I've read, "mobile first" has more to do with crawling than with ranking (i.e., it doesn't mean all the mobile pages will be at the top and all of the desktop pages will be after page 50 of the results).
This seems to be where you misunderstand what keyplyr and others are saying. Literally no one is saying that SERPs will be structured with all mobile-friendly sites followed by all desktop-only sites. What Google is saying is:
    Where there is a mobile page, it will be the only document scored - the desktop document will NOT be scored"
Once scored, the documents (of whatever design, mobile or desktop) will have equal chance to be returned for a given query from a desktop device. I would assume, though it is not explicit, that mobile searches will have a strong preference for mobile pages, though probably not an exclusive preference.
Finally, the apparent motive behind a "mobile first" index was spelled out in Google's original Webmaster blog announcement:

"...our ranking systems still typically look at the desktop version of a page’s content to evaluate its relevance to the user. This can cause issues when the mobile page has less content than the desktop page because our algorithms are not evaluating the actual page that is seen by a mobile searcher."
This statement concerns the CURRENT state of affairs. It explains the rationale, to wit that mobile searchers are being served pages that may not actually answer the query because of the stripped content. Since mobile is more than half the searches made, they want to flip that so that mobile is served the correct info. It is highly likely that the desktop version will have at least that info, and possibly more.

Thus, the new situation will benefit mobile users by design, and will not inconvenience desktop users by default.

However, I maintain that Google has been clear that Desktop searches will NOT be built from optimal desktop pages. It will be built from the single index, created from only mobile documents and supplemented from desktop documents where there was no mobile document available.
8:13 am on Sept 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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EditorialGuy ate you reading the other posts through the thread? I posted the same thing earlier where Google said desktop sites would still be indexed if there wasn't a mobile version.

I also made the point you referenced by Gary Illyes so I don't understand the effort.
4:31 pm on Sept 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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EditorialGuy ate you reading the other posts through the thread?

I'm not sure what the eating reference is meant to mean, but yes, I've read the other posts throughout this thread.

And yes, I'm quite aware that "index" and "return for a a given query" are two different things.

Getting back to the "What do you expect?" question, I expect that, if Google's statements are accurate, most publishers (or at least most publishers who serve both mobile and desktop users) won't see a huge impact from the changeover. But again, I think site owners need to pay attention to the "heads up" from Google that I cited in my last post: Those who dumb down or strip down their content (as opposed to their page layouts) for mobile could be in for an unpleasant surprise.
5:50 pm on Sept 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I wish Google would stop using the term “mobile site”. Inevitably it makes me think of m.example.com/ or example.com/mobile/ or, worse, User-Agent detection to serve variable content at the same URL. (Do they look for an override option? I’ll bet that’s one reason they want to read your scripts.) If a site is properly responsive, there is no “mobile site” as such, and they don't expect to find one. It’s just shorthand for “what a mobile device sees on your site”.

:: detour to check ::

In crawls of one responsive site, over the last couple of months Android Googlebot requests have held steady at about 8% of the (non-image) total. Android CSS requests are vanishingly rare: they know they're getting the same content, so no need to crawl twice. I’d be interested to know what the numbers are on sites that do have a clear-cut separate /mobile/ version.
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