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Google to set mobile-first as default for new sites

Woman on tablet

Google to set mobile-first as default for new sites

Search giant Google has recently announced that all new websites previously unknown to the company will be defaulted to the new mobile-first indexing as of July 1.

Furthermore, older sites that are still not being indexed with mobile first will not be switched to this index on the same date, but will instead be moved when they are ready to be moved.

The company released a statement on the matter on Tuesday this week, in which it confirmed that mobile-first indexing would be enabled by default as of July 1. The company also expressed that it was pleased to see that websites tend to show the search engine, and its users, the same content on both desktop and mobile versions.

What is mobile-first indexing?

It is simply Google’s way of crawling and indexing sites. Whereas previously, Google would crawl the desktop version of a site, it is now starting to look at the mobile version of a site as priority, hence the name ‘mobile-first’. It will be crawling sites and indexing them based on how they look and render on smartphones and tablets instead of desktop computers.

Google has made it clear that only new domains of which search engine is not aware will be defaulted to being indexed mobile-first. It will also continue to do this for sites that have already authorised the move over to this way of indexing.

However, it will hang fire for older sites it knows of that have not yet migrated, until they are ready to be moved. Google stated that it will notify these sites via Search Console when they are ready for the transition.

When a site is moved over, the company will notify the user through Search Console, confirming that it is now being indexed mobile-first. It will also show a label indicating that the latest crawl was conducted by a Googlebot smartphone user agent through the URL inspection tool as an alternative way to show that the site has moved.

More than 50% of the sites that Google indexes are done so using mobile-first indexing. This update shows the importance of designing a website that takes into account display and functionality on mobile devices.

If you create a brand new website, ensure that it is built with mobile-first in mind. Otherwise, when the site goes live, it may have issues with being indexed and may struggle in the search engine rankings.

Alan Littler

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