KEO Marketing

Be in the Know.

Google Tests Their New Mobile-First Ranking System

mobile-first rankingStarting in November 2016 Google began testing its mobile-first indexing system; a ranking system that will primarily look at the mobile version of your website for its ranking signals and fall back on the desktop version when there is no mobile version.

The reason for this is that Google sees more mobile searches than desktop searches on a daily basis. But when Google evaluates a webpage for ranking, it currently looks at the desktop version of the site. To fix this, Google will look at the content, links and structured data of the mobile version of the site if one is available.

Site owners whose content is mobile responsive across all media should not change anything because the algorithm of the tool will consider the mobile version first. If the content on your desktop site is configured differently than the mobile site, then it will be wise to synchronize the content.

While websites that do not have a mobile version of their websites will still be ranked using the available desktop version, the priority will be on mobile versions. Even though the desktop websites might appear at the top of the search engine results, mobile users will not be able to access them on their mobile devices. So, to accommodate both desktop and mobile listings, two indexes will be running in the background for a while as the transition to mobile index takes place.

While it is still too early to tell when this testing phase will come to an end, to be prepared for Google’s mobile-site-first implementation, an evaluation of your desktop and mobile sites would be in order. If you have a responsive site where the primary content and markup is equivalent across mobile and desktop, you should not have to change anything. However, if you have a site configuration where the primary content and markup is different across mobile and desktop, you should consider making some changes to your site. Google provides both guidelines for content creation and tools to check the structure of the content.

In addition, Google suggests that webmasters use the robots.txt testing tool to verify that the mobile website is accessible to Googlebot. Finally, sites do not have to make changes to their canonical links. Google will continue to use these links as guides to serve the appropriate results to a user searching on desktop or mobile.

Are you ready for this change in Google’s ranking system? Let KEO Marketing’s web design experts help you prepare.


With more than 25 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world's largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.