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OPLIN 4Cast #689: Google’s “mobile first” strategy isn’t new, but now it’s final

Posted in 4cast, and Google

Here at OPLIN, we haven’t been building separate mobile web sites since around 2013. Even then, responsive design was quickly becoming the norm. And it was good thing that we got a head start, because Google rolled out Mobilegeddon less than two years later. In short, how mobile-friendly your site was suddenly was a heavy ranking signal for the search giant.

Now, in 2020, not having a mobile-friendly website is practically unthinkable, especially since more than half of site visitors are looking at the web via their cell phones. But Google is taking things to their inevitable conclusion: its webcrawlers are now indexing by mobile-first. If your site isn’t already mobile-friendly, you’re in for some unpleasant surprises in the Google ranks.

  • Google to switch completely over to mobile-first indexing by September 2020 [Search Engine Land] ” Years in the making. Google started the mobile-first indexing process in 2016. Google has been working up to this point for almost four-years now. We have had plenty of time to get ready for this and it should come as no surprise to anyone here.”
  • Google Says 70% of Sites Have Been Moved to Mobile-First Indexing [Search Engine Journal] “As Google prepares to move all sites over to mobile-first indexing, the company confirms 70% of sites have already made the shift. The remaining 30% will be moved to mobile-fist indexing by September at the latest, as Google says that’s when all sites will be officially switched over.”
  • Top 5 Google Ranking Signals in 2020 [] “In 2020, mobile indexing is more important than you think. Since July 2019, every new website has been crawled by a Google smartphone bot, and its mobile-friendly content has been used to index almost everything that’s important. Mobile searches result in immediate actions compared to desktops. The number of mobile users for shopping has crossed 49%.”
  • You can’t opt into or out of mobile-first indexing [Search Engine Land] “‘Mobile-first indexing is separate from mobile friendliness,’ he also clarified. ‘Even sites that don’t have a mobile version at all can be indexed fine with the mobile Googlebot. Our goal is to use the mobile-first indexing for all websites in our search results.'”

From the Ohio Web Library (some historical perspective):