Google is providing webmasters with more updates about the progress on its mobile-first indexing initiative announced a year ago, today posted more advices to publishers for getting ready their sites for the mobile-first index.
With mobile-first indexing, Googlebot uses mobile version of content for indexing and ranking rather than traditional way of crawling, indexing, and ranking systems that typically look at the desktop version of a page's content.
The process of mobile-first index is already started for a "handful of sites", says Google, adding, the search team is "closely" monitoring those sites for testing purposes. "We will be evaluating sites independently on their readiness for mobile-first indexing based on the above criteria and transitioning them when ready," said Google.
With this process, webmasters will now see a significant increase in crawling by Smartphone Googlebot in log files. And, also, the snippets in the search results, as well as the cache pages content will now be from the mobile version of web pages.
For sites that already serve responsive web design and dynamically serve all of the desktop content and markup on mobile pages need not do anything. For others, here are some Google tips to help ensure your site is ready for mobile-first indexing:
- Make sure the mobile version of the site also has the important, high-quality content. This includes text, images (with alt-attributes), and videos - in the usual crawlable and indexable formats.
- Structured data is important for indexing and search features that users love: it should be both on the mobile and desktop version of the site. Ensure URLs within the structured data are updated to the mobile version on the mobile pages.
- Metadata should be present on both versions of the site. It provides hints about the content on a page for indexing and serving. For example, make sure that titles and meta descriptions are equivalent across both versions of all pages on the site.
- No changes are necessary for interlinking with separate mobile URLs (m.-dot sites). For sites using separate mobile URLs, keep the existing link rel=canonical and link rel=alternate elements between these versions.
- Check hreflang links on separate mobile URLs. When using link rel=hreflang elements for internationalization, link between mobile and desktop URLs separately. Your mobile URLs' hreflang should point to the other language/region versions on other mobile URLs, and similarly link desktop with other desktop URLs using hreflang link elements there.
- Ensure the servers hosting the site have enough capacity to handle potentially increased crawl rate. This doesn't affect sites that use responsive web design and dynamic serving, only sites where the mobile version is on a separate host, such as m.example.com.