Google’s shift to mobile-first indexing has been something of a foregone conclusion for several years, we all knew it was coming but it was not until February this year that the company formally confirmed its rollout.
At least, in the sense that Google’s John Mueller stated on Twitter that the planned deadline was March:
“That’s approximately the target. We don’t have a critical reason to reach any particular cut-off date, so it could be that the remaining sites are a bit spread out, some earlier, some a little bit later.”
For anyone wondering why they are not yet seeing any effects, there is a fairly simple explanation:
“Google’s transition to mobile-first indexing is still very much a work in progress”
That has been confirmed recently by John Mueller himself, having been asked for an update by a website owner on Twitter. To which, he provided the following response:
“We’re still working on moving the remaining sites over to MFI. If you’re sure that things are set up well on your end, I wouldn’t try to “force” it — my assumption is we’re just not on the batch that includes your site at the moment. Also, MFI is not just MF, it’s the content.”
It seems as if the gravity of the shift may have caught even Google off guard, given how the first stages of the transition started as far back as November 2016.
What to Expect From Mobile-First Indexing
At this point, it is worth revisiting what exactly mobile-first indexing means and what webmasters need to do to prepare for the change. For those still not up to speed with the adjustments necessary, the delayed transition could turn out to be a blessing.
When the shift to MFI is complete, Google intends to show strong preference to websites that provide a consistently superior experience for mobile audiences. Upon announcing the planned transition, Google outlined a series of guidelines for developers:
- Use the same Meta robots tags on the mobile and desktop site.
- Don’t lazy-load primary content upon user interaction.
- Let Google crawl your resources.
- Make sure that your mobile and desktop sites have the same structured data.
- Use correct URLs in structured data.
- If you use Data Highlighter, train it on your mobile site.
- Provide high quality images.
- Use a supported format for images.
- Don’t use URLs that change every time the page loads for images.
- Make sure that the mobile site has the same alt text for images as the desktop site.
- Make sure that the mobile page content quality is as good as the desktop page.
- Make sure that the error page status is the same on both the desktop and mobile sites.
- Make sure that your mobile version doesn’t have fragment URLs.
- Ensure that the desktop versions that serve different contents have equivalent mobile versions.
- Verify both versions of your site in Search Console to make sure that you have access to data and messages for both versions.
- Check hreflang links on separate URLs.
- Ensure that your mobile site has enough capacity to handle a potential increase in crawl rate on the mobile version of your site.
Mueller’s comments suggest there is still time to make headway before MFI happens, but time is most certainly running out for those yes to get their sites in order.