Will Mobile First Indexing Affect Desktop Rankings?

There is a lot of information regarding the mobile-first indexing change and its impact on the rankings. This article gives you in-depth knowledge about Mobile first indexing and its impact on desktop ranking.

What is mobile-first indexing?

Mobile-first indexing means the mobile version of your website that becomes the starting point for which Google includes in their index and what forms the basis of how they determine rankings. It’s called “mobile-first” because it’s not a mobile-only index- for example, if a website does not have a mobile-friendly version, the desktop site can still be included in the index.

Indexing vs Ranking

A few years ago, Google had a great microsite that was entitled “How Google Works.” It was well presented. The latest version is called How Search Works. There are two main tasks that search engines perform- indexing and ranking.

Indexing: this is the process of reading and storing a web page’s information by the search engine indexing robot. The moment Google visits and reads a page, it stores the data in its index.

Ranking: this is the process where the search engine evaluates the information in its index and determines the web pages that match its criteria as per the search query and other factors like device. A site cannot be ranked if it not already indexed.

Mobile-first indexing

The mobile-first indexing is all about indexing and not ranking. Even though the mobile-first represents a significant shift for Google and how it has always indexed web pages, it does not mean that there will be many changes for websites.

All that Google is trying to do is to change which version of the web page content it is indexing and preferring to index the mobile version first. Since we all know that indexing is simply reading and storing of data, then what is the challenge presented by mobile-first indexing?

If your mobile version of your website’s page content does not match that of the desktop version, then you may encounter some problems. For several sites, especially the sites that use responsive web design designed by Warrington Web Design, there will be no issue since the content on mobile and desktop versions are likely the same.

The problem only occurs when a web page has different content on the mobile version than it does on the desktop version. If the content that’s missing on mobile has some important ranking signal, then that means that the page can rank lower.

Desktop vs Mobile rankings

It’s worth noting that ranking and indexing are two different things, each with separate purposes, factors, and goals. And just because Google is changing how it indexes, it doesn’t mean that it is changing how it ranks websites too.

Currently, the organic rankings by Google differ based on whether the query is made on a mobile device or from a desktop. This is due to specific Google ranking factors and penalties that exist for mobile results like the mobile page speed ranking factor or the intrusive interstitial penalty.

There are also other factors that can affect rankings differently on desktop versus the mobile that will not go away or be applied differently because of a new indexing model.

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