Will Mobile-First Indexing Change Desktop Rankings?

Google’s mobile-first indexing is undoubtedly the biggest change to SEO in 2018 and represents a major shift of both how Google wants to present websites as well as how users are searching for websites. Probably the biggest question about this update is whether or not rankings on desktop devices will be affected.

Indexing vs Ranking

Firstly, we should understand the differences between indexing a website and ranking a website. Indexing is the process of a Search Engine crawler adding your website to an index – like a huge collection of websites which users can search through when they use a search engine. Ranking is when a user searches a query, and the search engine attempts to find the most relevant (and other factors) results from the index. A website cannot be ranked if it isn’t already indexed.

Mobile-First Indexing

Mobile-first indexing addresses, you guessed it, indexing – not ranking. Although this represents a major shift of how Google indexes and reads websites, it (so far) doesn’t represent any major shift for how a website is ranked. This update simply means the Googlebot (crawler) prefers to index the mobile version of a webpage first before it indexes the desktop version.

However, this doesn’t mean there won’t be any problems. If the content of your mobile webpage isn’t the same as your desktop webpage, there can be some problems. Typically, there will be less content on a mobile version of a webpage and this could also mean cutting the keyword from the content – which will obviously affect your ranking. However, most websites these days use responsive design, therefore, the content will at least be similar if not exactly the same.

Note that if a website does not have a mobile version or mobile compatibility (such as responsive design) the website will still be indexed as a desktop version can still be viewed on a mobile device. However, you’ll still get hit with the usual ranking penalties for failing to accommodate these mobile users.


If you haven’t worked it out yet, search rankings will not be affected by mobile-first indexing. Even if you don’t have a mobile version/friendly website, you will still be indexed and rank in the search engines – but with over 50% of Google searches coming from mobile devices, it’s time to embrace mobile websites!

Blue Whale Media

At Blue Whale Media, all our professionally crafted websites are designed with mobile-friendliness and compatibility in mind with our responsive design. This means you will have no worries with the mobile-first indexing update or any SEO penalties for mobile factors. Call us today on 01925 552050 or use the contact form below!

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