So yesterday during John Mueller’s keynote talk at PubCon, he summed up what has been announced over the year around SEO changes at Google. One was on the mobile-indexing changes and the deadline. That caused some confusion amongst the SEO industry that needs clarification.
Here is a tweet that sums it up:
Wow!!! @JohnMu just verified that if you have anything on Desktop not on mobile (content, comments, reviews, etc…) it will not be indexable starting March 2021. If it is not on your mobile page it will not count for indexing. #seo #pubcon2020
— Adam Riemer (@rollerblader) October 14, 2020
In short, this is really “not new” but I can see why many in the SEO industry are confused.
Google first launched this initiative and mobile-first indexing in 2016. When Google first launched it, Google said it will begin the process of crawling the web from a mobile-phone perspective “first.” Truth is, Google said early on that it is your job to make sure your desktop and mobile site were in sync; in sync with content, schema, links, etc. Because when your site is crawled using mobile-first indexing, Google will focus on the mobile site and pretty much ignore your desktop version.
But people for some reason felt that that Google will continue to crawl and index the desktop version, in addition to the mobile version. That is not true, unless Google is checking for spam and manipulation. But generally, no, Google will just crawl using the mobile user agent and not the desktop. Keep in mind, most of Google’s indexing today is done over mobile-indexing, not desktop.
Truth is, Google should be calling it mobile-only indexing, not mobile-first indexing. In fact, if you have been looking recently, Google has been calling it “mobile-indexing” not with the “first” mentioned at all.
John even said so:
It has to be in the (rendered / sstatic) HTML to be indexed.
I’m thinking we should just rename it to “mobile-only indexing” to make it clearer 🙂
— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) October 14, 2020
But again, Google has been communicating for a long time that once your site is switched over to mobile indexing, it really won’t be looking at your desktop version. Which is why Google has been proactive about sending notifications of issues of site parity via Search Console.
Let me just add, if you have a desktop only site, it is fine – the mobile crawler will crawl it. It is an issue if you have both a desktop and mobile site and the two sites do not match in terms of content, links, schema, navigation, etc.
Oh and yes, John Mueller told us earlier that there are bugs with m-dot URLs and mobile-indexing.
Forum discussion at Twitter.