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Google Mobile First index rolling out slowly/ being tested for some sites

     
9:03 pm on Oct 27, 2017 (gmt 0)

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< split off from the Oct Google Updates and SERPs Changes thread>

System: The following 4 messages were cut out of thread at: https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4870905.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 3:14 pm on Oct 27, 2017 (PDT -8)


I haven't seen any reference in this discussion to yesterday's announcement that the Mobile First index is being tested and has rolled out for some sites...

Google’s mobile-first index has rolled out for some sites & will be implemented very slowly
Barry Schwartz on October 26, 2017
[searchengineland.com...]

Gary Illyes from Google would not give us any timelines, but the rollout of the mobile-first index is going well, and a blog post about the process should be out soon.

The mobile-first index has started to slowly roll out, at least for a “few sites,” Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes told an audience last night at the SMX East conference in New York City.

It is unclear how many sites have already switched over to the mobile-first indexing process, but, when I asked Illyes to clarify what he meant by “a few sites,” he said a few relative to the Google index. So that could be quite a large number of websites....

This is going to be a very slow process, but is it possible that what some are reporting here might be related tremors?

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 11:30 pm (utc) on Oct 27, 2017]

10:22 am on Nov 10, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The site is responsive and shows the same content to desktop, mobile and tablet users. But adwords says bounce is much higher for mobile than for desktop. Perhaps same content = more scrolling on a mobile.
Mark_A, yes, user behavior is different on mobile than on desktop. Not just in the scrolling, but in reading patterns, type of user, and context of reading.

These, IMO, are factors that need careful attention when the pages are designed, targeted, and written.

My guess is that in the slow roll-out, this is the kind of thing that Google is looking at. We certainly should be paying attention to it.

1:09 pm on Nov 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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It is a concern mobile users may like more concise information possibly with more H2 / H3 breaks and fewer images while desktop users may not. I am certainly hoping to continue to have one responsive site reach both sets of users, but I am not sure how one achieves that.
9:51 pm on Nov 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I feel like I *might* have figured out why my traffic dropped around the time it was speculated the mobile first index was rolling out. I have zero hard evidence and correlation does not always equal causation, but here's what I found:

I took a second look at my "mobile site", which is the same HTML document as the desktop site but is responsive (bootstrap) and realized that my navigation "breadcrumb" links, which are something like "Service -> county -> city" were hidden on mobile screen sizes because they look ugly and take up too much room on mobile. However, that was was three fewer internal links per page, and over 2000 pages that's roughly 6,000 internal links that would not exist in the "mobile first" index. So I tried an experiment and made the breadcrumbs visible on mobile, even though they look dumb, and 10 days later my traffic has vastly improved.

Again, with SEO you can never be sure of anything, but it sure is interesting!
1:13 am on Nov 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@lostshootingstar
If your website is bootstrap responsive it is unlikely that what you describe is the the issue. Typically those links would still be present in the page sourceand only hidden from view. That is in the code once the page has loaded. Therefore Googlebot would see those links. Google has stated that it will assign less importance to hidden content, and that could be the case but I think it would be unlikely given that these are navigation links. Also, my site fits this exact pattern I have not seen a drop in traffic, on the contrary my traffic has been growing. Now if you were using JS to add the links only if it is a desktop, such that those links are not present in the page source on mobile, then it could be an issue.
1:38 am on Nov 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Sorry, I don't think that's 100% accurate. Googlebot has been able to fully "render" pages for ages. Even if the links are technically in the sourcecode, Google knows that it's hidden and inaccessible and would thus not count them or at least weigh them less. I'm almost positive I've seen either Illyes or Mueller comment on this very thing; recently even.
1:59 am on Nov 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Yes, they have mentioned that hidden content is given a lower weight. I speculate that this does not apply to breadcrumbs. My site is has the pattern as yours, breadcrumbs hidden on mobile layout. But my site's traffic has been growing steadily. Also, my breadcrumbs are marked-up with schema.org and they appear in the Google Mobile Serps. This may change in the future but this has been the case since I implemented the mark-up close to two years ago now.
2:11 pm on Nov 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Hello @lostshootingstar ,

I have the same problem as you. I used to have my breadcrumb with the first 3 levels shown and with a plus button to show all levels. Now I have put an overflow-x:auto , and white-space:nowrap . So the user can scroll .

My problem is that my breadcrumb is huge for mobile versions . I dont know if doing like this google penalized it too . Because the content is not hidden, but is not showed by default
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