Google announced today it will fully transition to mobile-first crawling and indexing starting in September 2020.*
Mobile-first has been a lengthy journey. Way back in 2016, Google said that it was starting the move from crawling and indexing the desktop version of web content to the mobile version. This was known as Google’s ‘mobile-first’ indexing which also introduced us to a smartphone version of its desktop Googlebot crawler.
Given the sharp rise of mobile usage over the years, and mobile searches in particular, this transition made complete sense. Google was signalling to organisations that they needed to ensure their web content was optimised for the new generation of mobile surfers or suffer the consequences of poor search rankings and traffic.
The initial announcement was big news. It sent SEOs and web developers into a huddle: how well optimised was the presentation and performance of their content on mobile devices? Something that had been overlooked far too often in my experience.
Then in July 2019, Google took the next step when it switched to mobile-first by default for all new websites – new in the sense that Google had not seen them before. The company now claims that about 70% of websites in the Google Search index have been moved to mobile-first indexing.
Today’s announcement is just a reminder that if you’ve not been paying attention to mobile search, now’s a good time to start…
* Addition 29th April 2020: Google raised the possibility that the September deadline may be pushed back due to the Covid-19 pandemic though, at the time of writing, the official word is that deadline has not changed.