In yet another uncharacteristically proactive move from Google, the search engine announced that they will notify site owners once their site has transitioned to the mobile-first index.
Google has previously stated that they did not have plans to communicate this message to site owners, and, despite the number of sites that have already transitioned to the new index, the decision has been made to send both direct messages and Search Console notifications when a site moves.
Regardless of this latest news, Google still intends to evaluate sites based on whether or not they are prepared for the mobile-first transition.
Sites that are optimized for mobile search will be considered ready for mobile-first index, with preference toward responsive and AMP content.
So, what does this mean for you and your site, and how do you know if you are ready?
Prepared for Mobile-First
If you have been diligent in monitoring your site’s move to the mobile-first index, then you’re likely all set.
However, just because you have a mobile site, doesn’t necessarily mean you can sit back and relax. The mobile site is what will affect your rankings once your site is moved over.
We (and Google for that matter) recommend implementing a responsive design of your site. With a responsive design, you remove the likelihood of error in managing both a desktop and a mobile site.
To ensure that you will retain search visibility if you have a separate mobile site, once your site is moved to the mobile-first index, you can follow our comprehensive checklist that details the ways in which you can maintain your site’s search visibility.
No Mobile Site in Sight
If you’re unprepared for the new index, don’t panic and rush to create a mobile site. A good desktop site is better than having a bad mobile site.
According to Google’s John Mueller at SMX Munich and Search Engine Journal’s subsequent report of the announcement, “relevancy supersedes everything”. Since Google currently analyzes your site’s desktop content, highly relevant content to individual queries may fare well even if your site is not yet mobile-friendly.
We have created a shortlist of tasks for you to prepare your site for this update that instructs site owners to do the following:
- Allow Googlebot to have access to crawl your site
- Ensure that structured data on your mobile site matches its desktop counterpart
- Create well-formatted content for your mobile site
Google is giving site owners plenty of time to prepare for the mobile-first index, but it’s imperative that you become proactive in making changes today.
Undoubtedly, mobile has completely shifted the way that consumers interact with brands or consumer content, and Google wants to make certain that your site is prepared to make a transition to the mobile-first index. These notifications are one step in making sure that transition is seamless for both you and your site users.