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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.
6:42 am on Aug 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Good topic Peter_S
I know that lot of people are just ... 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

Whether you use hosting services or pay a bit more for a dedicated server/VPS makes little difference in the amount of work required or SE indexing for that matter.

What are you expecting from the "Mobile-First Index" ?
I'm expecting what Google has announced... that ranking/indexing will be done on the merits of the Mobile version of your site for both Mobile & Desktop (instead of from the Desktop version like it has been.) What that will look like will be determined in the several months following the update.

I do read that if you do not have a Mobile version of your site, the ranking will *temporarily* continue from the Desktop version to give extra time to adapt. How long that grace period will be, also will be determined in the several months following the update.

I do extremely well in my niche with mobile. For well over 2 years Mobile has exceeded Desktop. My pages load very fast and I rarely see Weblight requests, so those on slower connections must do OK with it.

While PageSpeed doesn't give my sites perfect scores, I pass well enough. And here's why I feel good about the Mobile-first Index... I don't have a watered-down Mobile version of my Desktop site. Every word on my Desktop version is on my Mobile version, in every article, on every page. The only thing different is image sizes and navigation and ad types.
10:04 am on Aug 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Good topic Peter_S

Thank you.

I meant that when you run your own dedicated server (or some VPS), you can set up TCP BBR congestion, you can use 256bits ECDSA certificates instead of 2048bits+ RSA ones, you can specify which ciphers to use depending of the plateform (AES based ciphers for desktops and CHACHA for mobiles for example), you can use Brotli, instead of GZ, you can disable buffering to handle it yourself so you can prioritize displaying above the fold content, you can use HTTP/2 (lot of hosts are still not proposing it), and in the future you'll be able to use QUIC, you can partition your disk(s), to spread your data over the different plates to optimize their access,... and by coding your site yourself, you can use optimal database schemes, and also use NoSQL or Flat file databases, you can write PHP (or other) code, which is optimized for your use, etc… and all of these is greatly speeding up a site, and it becomes easy to be twice faster than other sites in your industry [ I am referring to the [testmysite.withgoogle.com...] tool ], but it requires extra work.

Without forgetting that you get more power, and more RAM, without being excessive (my server is $56 / mo for a Xeon E3-1245v2, 32GB RAM and 3 x 120 GB SSD, 250Mbps unmetered).

By ready-to-use hosting service, I meant sites like WordPress.com or others, which allows you to create your site by clicking one or two buttons, and there you go. It's great, it's fancy and nice looking, you can add all kind of plugins, and this allows you to focus on your content, but you end with a container which is not optimized.

I do believe the Mobile-First-Index is not only a matter of responsive page layout, but also a matter of delivering speed.

So I was just saying that I hope that the Mobile-First-Index will be a way to reward webmasters which are working hard, no only on the content, but also on the "container".

The only thing different is image size

I am using the "srcset" attribute of the <img> tag, the web browser selects itself which image to take. The <picture> tag exists too, but I found out it works less well.

(sorry if I do not use the right words to express my thoughts, but I am not good enough in English, and I lack vocabulary).
10:33 am on Aug 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Yes I use the same images, they just get sized according to device.
5:13 pm on Aug 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I think keyplr has the right approach. Fast is good, but I can't see Google favoring the "container" over content. I can imagine speed being a ranking factor, as in "a tiebreaker when all other things are equal." Trouble is, all other things are seldom equal.
11:15 pm on Aug 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Color me different, I view the upcoming mobile first index to be a churn and learn (sic) experience which will explore a zillion wrong ways to scramble to the top of an invented serp, and will also reveal a few commonsense ways that get the job done. "Mobile First" is pretty simple: Can the content display on small screens and (secondary) get it done without burning scads of bandwidth?

Much of the above we want to do simply because it makes sense. After all Content Does Remain King. The side benefit of On All Devices is merely icing on the cake.
1:47 pm on Aug 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I don't know what to expect but much will depend on what niche you are in. I'm in an informational hobby page UK. I expect the impact of mobile first on that niche to be completely different from online business sites.

In my niche I suspect mobile first will force even more amateur sites to stop updating and being left as legacy sites. Your average amateur webmaster has become overwhelmed by all the recent and proposed changes. AMP, https, mobile first, responsive design etc. have all stretched many to the limit of their technical capabilities.

What I find absurd is that I can convert my websites to a responsive design but Google are unable to convert their SERPS to be responsive. Why on earth should there be only be a SERPS for one type of device? Google are either just plain lazy or not as clever as many suppose them to be.

I think the latter is true and the result of the mobile first index will be simply a check that the page loads OK on a mobile, that it loads reasonably fast and the only content which counts will be that of the mobile page version. There will be unknown consequences from that but the losers will just be collateral damage as far as Google is concerned. And in reality, they probably have no other option given the general direction they are taking.

What I await from mobile first with the most interest is what impact it will have on Bing and other minor search engines.
3:39 pm on Aug 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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One thing I'm expecting from the "mobile-first" index is better rankings overall, because there are plenty of sites in our niche(s) that aren't mobile-friendly. And nomis5 makes a good point in suggesting that many "amateur sites" (a.k.a. sites without a compelling profit or organizational motive for change) will be left behind.
5:54 pm on Aug 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Why on earth should there be only be a SERPS for one type of device?
I think you may be misunderstanding what the Mobile-First Index [webmasterworld.com] is.

This is not a Mobile *only* index. 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.
8:32 pm on Aug 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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All of which means the move is to the lowest common denominator (user) and their access to the web. G sees mobile as the cash cow and wants to serve that market and suggests to all who want to play, to make the change.

It is a mobile only (eventually) index, let's don't kid ourselves. As stated:

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.
9:10 pm on Aug 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@nomis5 & EditorialGuy - Agreed. The Mobile-First Index should clean out the abandoned amateur & hobby sites and those that have not kept up with web changes, but not at first I probably.

I think those sites will remain in the index, just pushed back to page 50 where they won't be missed when eventually they're purged from the index, or just found in those "omitted results."
10:24 pm on Aug 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@keyplyr .... seriously keen observation, and one that did not occur to me. The mobile first serp might do more to re-jig the web and remove extraneous "noise" or "out-dated" content than anything else. Wonder how many billion websites this might push to page 50 in the future? Time will tell.
5:11 pm on Aug 30, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The Mobile-First Index should clean out the abandoned amateur & hobby sites and those that have not kept up with web changes, but not at first I probably.

I doubt if they'll be cleaned out. They just won't do well in mobile searches, IMO.

There are many, many specialized sites, often with "evergreen" content, that are the best of their kind by any objective measure even if they aren't mobile-friendly. (I link to some of them.) I can't imagine any serious search engine ignoring such valuable sites or pushing them back to page 50 for non-mobile searches.
8:05 pm on Aug 30, 2017 (gmt 0)

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If those old sites with "evergreen" content don't display for the user's device, I doubt they'll remain, given the fact that Google insists on user-first pages more and more.
8:34 pm on Aug 30, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I think there are some niches that may see significant change. Perhaps an authoritative site has been dormant for several years, but still contains the best information. It may use an old design and be far from mobile friendly. There may be a lesser known site providing suitably useful content to that niche, but with a fully mobile friendly version that is responsive to the desktop/larger displays. This may turn a few markets on their heads.

In general, I don't think we will see a lot of change. Top sites will remain top sites because they have kept up to speed and learned to evolve with the web. There will be sites that will be killed off simply because they have not embraced change.

If you have not yet deployed a mobile friendly site, you really are in a position where you need to think fast!

Mack.
8:49 pm on Aug 30, 2017 (gmt 0)

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If those old sites with "evergreen" content don't display for the user's device, I doubt they'll remain, given the fact that Google insists on user-first pages more and more.

But "user first" means giving the best search results, and Google is more than capable of telling if a searcher is using a phone, a tablet, or a computer.

I find it very hard to believe that Google would ignore desktop and laptop users for a "one size fits all" mobile approach. That would be extraordinarily stupid and self-destructive, especially for a search engine that has led the way in "personalized search."
10:32 pm on Aug 30, 2017 (gmt 0)

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But "user first" means giving the best search results, and Google is more than capable of telling if a searcher is using a phone, a tablet, or a computer.
I was referencing user-first as far as page layout, which in turn will now play a primary role in the index change.

But relax. 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” at least for a while.

As far as ranking, Google has previously said that content that’s not deemed mobile-friendly will not rank as well. This has already been the case with the current index and will remain in the Mobile-first Index. So desktop only pages will continue to have a disadvantage compared to mobile-friendly pages as far as ranking.

I find it very hard to believe that Google would ignore desktop and laptop users for a "one size fits all" mobile approach.
Google isn't ignoring any users, that's why they strongly recommend a responsive layout. That's not a "one size fits all" it's a one layout accommodates all.

The days of arguing against a mobile-responsive layout are gone. Google has said what it wants.

There is still plenty of time to get your site mobile-friendly. Gary Illyes has said "Our engineers’ timeline was initially end of 2017. Right now, we think more 2018."
3:34 pm on Aug 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The days of arguing against a mobile-responsive layout are gone. Google has said what it wants.

I'm not arguing against a mobile layout or a responsive layout. Either approach is fine.

I'm simply saying that those who think Google is going to throw the baby out with the bathwater are likely to be incorrect. Why should Google let other search engines siphon off desktop/laptop/tablet traffic when, by delivering the best results for any given device, it can continue to maintain its dominance across the board?
4:34 pm on Aug 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Why should Google let other search engines siphon off desktop/laptop/tablet traffic when, by delivering the best results for any given device, it can continue to maintain its dominance across the board?
It's a good question. It makes very little sense.

Nonetheless, Google has stated they are not maintaining two indexes

An equivalent question is
"Why should Google make all this fuss about a mobile-first index, when they can deliver the best result to mobiles through personalisation"
7:02 pm on Aug 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Nonetheless, Google has stated they are not maintaining two indexes

They don't need to maintain two indexes. They simply need to serve up the optimum results for the user and device.
2:50 am on Sept 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The handwriting is on the wall. We can jump and shout and run about, or make the change. This is the path of g and, over the years, kicking and screaming, we have "embraced" all of their demands. Only way to change that game is to not play. How many are willing to do that (in hopes that B or others pick up the slack)?
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That's what I thought. :)
6:56 am on Sept 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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They don't need to maintain two indexes. They simply need to serve up the optimum results for the user and device.

If that was the case, why bother with a new index? Why not just optimise for mobile with the existing one?
7:01 am on Sept 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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If that was the case, why bother with a new index?
Semantics... it's not a *new* index, it's a change in the way sites are indexed... a change in the way they're ranked:
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.
[webmasterworld.com...]
11:56 am on Sept 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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If that was the case, why bother with a new index?
Semantics... it's not a *new* index, it's a change in the way sites are indexed... a change in the way they're ranked

Well, technically it's not a way they are ranked, it's the way they are indexed. Ranking is done with respect to keyword input, whereas this is building an index from scoring documents- indexation.

Pedantically then:
Why announce a change to the way things are indexed? If the new indexation methodology can return Desktop results for Desktop (per EG's contention), then the current one can return Mobile for Mobile.
5:08 pm on Sept 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Pedantically then:
Why announce a change to the way things are indexed? If the new indexation methodology can return Desktop results for Desktop (per EG's contention), then the current one can return Mobile for Mobile.

That's probably a question that only Google can answer, but it's worth noting that--if nothing else--declaring that mobile pages are getting "looked at" first will nudge at least some sluggish site owners toward making their sites mobile-friendly.

Getting back to the original "What are you expecting?" question, I'm expecting that mobile-friendly sites will have a somewhat greater advantage over mobile-unfriendly sites after the changeover than they do now. How much of an advantage will depend on the query and the pool of available pages.
10:53 am on Sept 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Since device pixel ratio = 1 is now a 1/3 minority, I just prepare my web site to use higher resolution pictures.
I will do this by javascript only after all important content is loaded.
After this, javascript starts to replace pictures.

first tests showed, it's a big difference, even on a US$ 75 smartphone with DPR=2 1280x720 5" display.
9:19 am on Sept 4, 2017 (gmt 0)

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That's probably a question that only Google can answer...
Either the assertion that the mobile-first index will not affect Desktop results is true and only Google can explain why, or it is untrue and desktop results will be affected.

I suspect the latter, and that's what this thread is about- what you expect from the mobile-first index.

In terms of the changes, I am expecting links to be revalued. My first thought is that they would be devalued, as other criteria will become more prominent in the recipe (on the empirical basis that mobile pages have less outbound links). However, more rigorous thinking suggests that where links are included, they will be a stronger signal than before, so are likely to carry more weight.

I also expect sites with heavy inline linking will be less disrupted than sites that stick to top-down (especially hamburger-triggered) navigation. Contextual navigation may be a powerful "trick" - certainly worth experimenting with.

The disrupted link graph will definitely mean other factors are re-engineered to give equivalent results. I suspect this will cause a lot of disruption in some niches. Ecom is likely to see the biggest changes, as the recalibration or ranking factors will take place in a relatively low-link environment so the changes will be magnified.

But mostly I'm expecting things to be unpredictable. There are so many unknowns. Will Google dial up on personalisation? To what extent will Google seek to match the new SERPs to old at launch - or will they treat is as a new paradigm with no reference to what went before? How will your specific upstream factors affect you?

I expect a lot of people, very possibly including myself, to get their preparation wrong. Then I expect another huge secondary effect as many of those scramble to adapt.
7:01 pm on Sept 4, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I expect the ultimate goal to remain the same as always: to deliver the best possible search results for a given query and user. (That's probably why it's taking so long for the "mobile first" index to be implemented.)
8:34 pm on Sept 4, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Paradoxically, if you're looking at sites that haven't been updated in yoincks, the really really really old sites may come out ahead of the middle-aged ones.* Material that was originally intended for 800px-or-less monitors will look less disastrous on a modern smartphone than material that was hard-coded for a 2000-plus-px monitor.


* Old = 20 years. Middle-aged = 10 years.
8:46 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.
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