Mobile-first indexing bases site ranking and indexing from the mobile version of a site as opposed to the desktop version.
It has been deployed for a “handful of sites” and will be monitored by Google’s search team as they roll it out to more websites. Websites that adequately employ responsive web design or dynamic serving — practices that modify how a website looks and acts based on the device it’s being loaded on — won’t have to change their websites for mobile-first indexing. Websites that don’t have mobile responsive design will have to create a mobile version of their sites or risk falling lower on Google’s search rankings.
This product roll out is the most recent effort by Google to improve the overall mobile web experience as consumers spend an increasingly larger share of their digital time on mobile devices.
Mobile now accounts for a majority of consumer digital media time in more than 13 markets, according to a September 2017 report from comScore. For example, 90% of digital time in Indonesia and 65% in the US is spent on mobile devices (see chart, below).
Mobile is the most used medium for searches. As of May 2015 — nearly three years ago — more than half of all Google searches occurred on mobile devices according to a statement from the company. A separate report a year later found that share grew to 60%.
A focus on optimizing the mobile search experience is important for Google's advertising business. While Google doesn't break out mobile as a percentage of it's total revenue, the company mentioned that the channel was largely responsible for driving the 24% YoY growth it reported for Q3 2017. However, many mobile sites still do not provide the quality user experience found on desktop. In April 2017 mobile bounce rates were 40% higher than they were on desktop and consumers visiting websites on desktop were likely to visit more pages than they were on mobile according to SimilarWeb. As Google shifts to mobile indexing it will likely drive businesses to improve their mobile offerings.
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