Google has been prioritizing mobile search for several years, and in March 2020 it announced that all websites would be moved to ‘mobile-first’ indexing by that September. Mobile-first indexing means that Google will predominantly use the mobile version of your website to determine its search ranking.
Of course, that March 2020 announcement came on the eve of COVID lockdowns sweeping the world; in July, Google extended the deadline to March 2021. That deadline came and went without confirmation that mobile-first indexing had become universal.
On November 26, 2021, the company announced that the shift to mobile-first was not yet complete. Most webpages are now being indexed with ‘Googlebot-Smartphone,’ but a small number have yet to switch to mobile-first, Google Search Relations team member John Mueller explained in a Google Search Central Blog post. When the company analyzed the remaining desktop-first websites, it found that many weren’t ready for the transition ‘due to various, unexpected challenges that they’re facing.’ As a result, the search engine lifted all deadlines for the mobile-first shift.
“We currently don’t have a specific final date for the move to mobile-first indexing and want to be thoughtful about the remaining bigger steps in that direction,” Mueller explained.
Even though there is now no deadline for mobile-first indexing, Google is still planning to gradually move all webpages over to that system. If your website is one of the few non-mobile-first sites remaining, it will still have to prepare for the mobile-first world. That means following Google’s best practices and ensuring that the content, images, and UI/UX on your mobile site is just as polished and professional as on your desktop site.
As a Google Partner, GrowthEngine Media is attuned to the various shifts and changes in Google’s best practices. Our team will ensure your website is prepared for these changes, so it remains visible in search results.