Google Delays the Rollout of Mobile-First Indexing Until 2021


Last year, Google announced that new websites will be indexed based on their mobile-first indexing starting on July 1. Since 2016, Google has given us updates and information regarding how mobile-first indexing works. Old websites should also prepare themselves for this new criterion.

Although mobile-first indexing already is in full swing for many, Google has rescheduled the complete switch to mobile-first indexing to March 2021. It’s due to the influence of the pandemic on businesses worldwide. We will talk about mobile-first indexing and the reasons behind its delay in this article. 

What is Mobile-First Indexing?

Mobile-first indexing means that your website's mobile version will be the first factor that Google will consider for ranking your web page. Although the desktop site can still be included in the search engine index, a lack of mobile-friendly experience could impact your website’s ranking.

More and more users are using their smartphones nowadays to access the internet, and a good mobile version of the website is vital for anyone publishing content on the web. Google began experimenting in 2016 and tweaked its search algorithm to rank the mobile version of websites instead of the desktop version.

Reasons for the delay of mobile-first indexing

Google announced some years back that it would begin ranking websites on the basis of their mobile version. The plan was to make this transition in September of this year, but unfortunately, it will now take place in March next year. Some reasons for the delay of mobile-first indexing are as follows:

Mobile version robot meta tags

A meta robot tag guides search engines about what to follow and what to leave. It’s a piece of code in your webpage’s <head> section and allows you to decide the pages you want a search index to look at and index and hide the pages you don’t want to show. It tells search engine crawlers about what links to follow or not.

One of the reasons Google postponed the mobile-first indexing transition is for websites to check and optimize their mobile robot tags. Google advises the tags to be checked as they can be different for desktop and mobile versions of a website.

Slow loading of the mobile version of websites

Google wants websites to work on mobile versions and tackle the lazy and slow loading of some of the primary content on the website. Google recommends this because the loading of this content is based on triggers, and GoogleBot cannot trigger this. Only the user can trigger the loading of this main content.

Google advised that the main content should load fast and avoid slow-loading primary content that is triggered through clicks, swipes, or typing.

Blocked mobile content and assets

This refers to mobile website content like videos, fonts, images, JavaScript, CSS, etc. that may be called from a different URL than the desktop website version. It is vital to look into this as blocking CSS, and other important assets on the mobile version which can cause a considerable ranking drop of your website.

Content must be matching among desktop and mobile website

There have been many instances where publishers change the content on a website. The primary content is the most important content, and a publisher should make sure that both the desktop and mobile versions of a website have the same primary content.

Primary content is what users come to your website for, and Google ranks your website based on this content primarily. If the content does not match between the mobile and desktop version of a website, this may hurt its Google ranking. 

Mobile videos and images should follow proper practices

Content like videos and images used in mobile websites should follow the right practices without any unwanted issues. All the images should be mobile optimized and have proper alt attributes. Try not to use different URLs for mobile website images, as this can disrupt your ranking.

All video data should be identical on the mobile and desktop website and appropriately placed. Users who visit the mobile website should not need to scroll too much to find the desired videos and images. This is vital as the main parts of a website should always be near the top.

These were some reasons as to why Google delayed its first mobile-first indexing until 2021. Website developers now have more time to address these issues and come up with the right solutions. If a website is clear of all these issues, it will undoubtedly have a good ranking on Google’s list. 

More info regarding mobile-first indexing

Google slowly started rolling out the indexing, and the websites were instructed to prepare for it accordingly. Even though many websites haven’t been ready for the indexing yet, eventually, all websites will have to transition. There is no way to know exactly when a site moves to mobile-first indexing, and nothing can be done to make this process quicker.

Google chooses when a site is ready based on its links, videos, images, text, metadata, and other structured data. Using excessive JavaScript can also prevent a website from transitioning to mobile-first indexing. When a website is ready to make the jump, its developers will be notified through the Google Search Console. 

Google announced last year that all new websites that came into existence after 1st July 2019 are automatically enabled with mobile-first indexing as they are ready for GoogleBot crawling. The main reason for indexing is to provide the users with an identical experience on both the mobile and desktop versions of a website.

Google announced earlier that all websites would transition to mobile-first indexing in September 2020, but this has now been delayed till March 2021, at least because of the ongoing pandemic and various other issues. Developers now have more time to work on their websites and make sure they get a good ranking by Google.

In the above article, we read about why mobile-first indexing was delayed and the issues that websites need to work on. Make sure you take the required steps so that the move to mobile-first indexing is easy for you. Your users should have an identical experience on both the desktop and mobile versions of your website. 

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