Get Ready for the Latest Google Mobile First Indexing Update

SEO Services

In March 2021, Google is finally switching all websites to mobile-first indexing, and they have announced some new restrictions as to what will be crawled. Mobile-first indexing means that all of your website’s SEO features will be judged based on your site’s mobile version. Any content that is included on the desktop version of your website, but does not appear on the mobile version, will no longer be crawled by Googlebot.

Google also announced a few important features that Googlebot won’t crawl if they don’t follow the designated format. This includes features like lazy load plugins and images that are hidden on your mobile site. This change could mean a lot of extra work for web developers and SEO services consultants to prepare for the update.

Google has been working on this change for a couple years, and currently all new websites are indexed based on the mobile site. They were hoping to implement across-the-board mobile-first indexing in September 2020, but have pushed it back to March 2021 due to the added workload and demands of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Make Sure Googlebot is Crawling Your Mobile Site

In order to get ready for this change, you need to make sure that Googlebot is crawling all of the content on your mobile site.

You’ll need to implement the following Mobile-first best practices on your site:

  • Ensure meta robots tags are consistent on the mobile and desktop versions of your site. Especially avoid using “noindex” and “nofollow” meta robots tags on your mobile site.
  • Do not require user interaction to lazy-load primary content. If you require the user to click or swipe in order to view content or photos, Googlebot is unlikely to crawl this content.
  • Test your lazy-load content. Make sure Googlebot can see it. We’ve included information about how to test it below.
  • Be careful about what you block. Don’t use the disallow directive on your mobile site. If you have different URLs on your site’s mobile version, make sure Googlebot can crawl them. Similarly, blocking URLs of images and .css files will prevent Google from rendering these.

What Won’t Be Crawled with Mobile First Indexing

Here are some examples of things that most likely will not be crawled with mobile first indexing, according to Google’s warnings.

1. Lazy-Load Content that requires the user to click or scroll in order to load.

Image Credit: Googleblog.com

2. Images that load as thumbnails on the mobile site may be too small to be considered primary content.

Image Credit: Googleblog.com

3. Videos and images that require excessive scrolling in mobile. In this example, the video is easily viewable in desktop.

Image Credit: Googleblog.com

However, for the mobile version of this page, you can see in the example on the left that they have placed an ad at the top of the page. The video is no longer visible without scrolling.

Image Credit: Googleblog.com

The example on the right is correct; the video should be at least partially visible upon loading the page without scrolling.

4. If you use a structured data markup for your videos, make sure the markup is correct for your mobile site. If not, the video will no longer show in Search.

5. Content that you left off of your mobile site. This may seem obvious, but make sure all primary content and headings are included on your mobile site, or this content will no longer be indexed starting in March 2021.

How to Fix Lazy-Load Content

Google provides this guide to lazy-load content. If you are a developer and want to check whether your lazy-load content is being indexed, head over to the Puppeteer test. You will need Node.js to load the script. You can also check what content is being indexed for your mobile website using the Search Console.

Orlando SEO Agency

M5 Design Studio is a full-service creative and SEO agency. Our team powers your website with the keywords, content, and technical optimization you need to rise in Google search results. We are a local SEO company in downtown Orlando, FL, and we care about helping businesses and organizations succeed. Get in touch for a free consultation by filling out our contact form, or call us at (407) 968-6296.

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