What is Google’s Mobile-First Indexing?

Mobile-first indexing is essentially Google using the mobile version of your website as the starting point when it comes to crawling, indexing and ranking.

Previously, Google used the desktop version of a page’s content for this purpose. But with more and more searches today happening via mobile, they’ve changed their tack.

According to the folks at Google themselves: “Mobile-first indexing means that we’ll use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help our – primarily mobile – users find what they’re looking for.”

As a business then, it’s a good idea to take a look at and improve your mobile website in line with the mobile-first indexing criteria. This should help you maintain or enhance the keyword rankings you currently hold.

Breaking It Down

Google has released details around what it is looking for when it comes to mobile-first indexing.

Let’s take a look at some of the specifics:

  • If you have a responsive web design, canonical AMP or desktop only site, there won’t be any change, as the mobile version is the same as the desktop version.


  • If you have separate URLs for desktop and mobile, Google will now prefer the mobile URL for indexing.
  • If your site serves different content based on the device being used, Google will prefer the mobile optimised content for indexing.
  • If your site has both AMP and non-AMP versions of a page, Google will prefer the mobile version of the non-AMP URL for indexing.


What can I do?

Now you know what will and will not be affected, and what Google will prefer, you can compare this to your own desktop and mobile sites and see where you stand.

Google has issued a series of best practices to ensure your site doesn’t slide down rankings once mobile-first indexing kicks in. Take a look:


  • Have the same content on both your desktop and mobile sites. This should include all text, images and videos in crawlable and indexable formats
  • Ensure structured data is present on both your desktop and mobile sites
  • Meta data should be present on both desktop and mobile sites and consistent with one another
  • Verify both site versions in Google’s Search Console to ensure access to messages and data for both version



  • Look at your hreflang links. Mobile URL’s hreflang should point to mobile URLS, and the same applies for desktop URL hreflangs.
  • Make sure the correct rel=canonical and rel=alternate link elements are in place between your mobile and desktop versions
  • Confirm that your txt directives work correctly between your mobile and desktop sites.

However, if this all seems a bit too complicated, why not get a team of professionals conduct a technical SEO audit of your website, and let you know how you fare and what you need to do next. Say [email protected] to get started.