Google’s Mobile-First Indexing: Best Practices & the Latest Update


Google’s neverending algorithm changes may seem like a lot to keep up with, and we’ll be the first to admit, they can be. However, it’s important to understand these updates and how to optimize for them if you want to not only keep, but improve your Search Engine rankings. 

In this article, we are going to discuss the latest on Google’s Mobile-First Indexing, simplify mobile usability, what it means to have an identical experience on mobile and desktop, and how you can meet Google’s expectations of mobile-first best practices. 

We know, it’s a lot to take in! But don’t worry, we’re here to help. Let’s break down Google’s Mobile-First Indexing.

First things first, what IS Mobile-First Indexing? 

Mobile-first indexing means Google mainly uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking. Historically, the index primarily used the desktop version of a page’s content when evaluating the relevance of a page to a user’s query.

Is Mobile Usability the Same as Mobile-First Indexing?

The short answer is no. Mobile usability is completely separate from mobile-first indexing.

A site can or cannot be usable from a mobile point of view, but it can still contain all of the content that we need for mobile-first indexing. Long story short, mobile-friendliness and mobile-responsive layouts are not mandatory for mobile-first indexing.

Mobile vs. Desktop

One of Google’s main emphases for best practices of mobile-first indexing is on providing an identical experience on mobile and desktop. To ensure a great experience on both, it’s important to do the following:

  • Ensure Googlebot can access and render mobile and desktop page content and resources
  • Make sure your mobile site contains the same content as your desktop site
  • Use the same meta robots tags and headings on your mobile and desktop site
  • Make sure the mobile and desktop sites have the same structured data

So, how does Mobile-First Indexing affect you and your site?

Thankfully for many businesses, this won’t cause any issues, as most sites that are served to mobile users are responsive versions of the desktop site.  However, problems start to arise when a website serves different desktop and mobile versions. If you are a business that has yet to optimize for a mobile-friendly website, you can expect to see a negative impact on your search rankings across both mobile and desktop searches, whereas a well-thought-out mobile-friendly website could drive notable increases to your site. 

Let’s Improve Your Performance in Google’s Mobile-First Index

Over the years, Google has provided an extensive list of best practices for mobile-first indexing, which you can find here. Once you have implemented these to your site, there are other tactics you can use to improve and build on those practices.

Here is a list of those tactics:

  1. Include Important Content on All

Include your most important content and information on both the desktop page and the mobile page. If you have less content on the mobile page than the desktop page, you will experience a decrease in traffic on the mobile-first indexing. 


  1. Allow Googlebot Access and Render Your Content

Google suggests that you use the same meta robots tags on both versions, avoid lazy-loading primary content, and allow Googlebot to crawl your resources.

  1. Verify Structured Data

Verify that your structured data is identical on both versions of your website while ensuring the URLs are accurate.

  1. Improve Mobile Page Speed

Page speed has become increasingly important with both the mobile-first index and Page Experience Update.

  1. Pay attention to Mobile Errors

Continuously monitor your Search Console to identify and correct mobile errors.

If you apply these recommendations to your site, you’ll be sure to see the benefits of your optimizations. If you have any questions on mobile-first indexing or want to improve your website or online performance, contact us at Top Floor and we’ll help you reach your website’s full potential.