SEO Glossary / Mobile-First Indexing

Mobile-First Indexing

What is Mobile-First Indexing?

Mobile-first indexing means that Google primarily uses the mobile version of a website’s content for crawling, indexing, and ranking. This approach was introduced to address the increasing use of mobile devices for online searches.

Key Points:

  • Mobile Priority: Google uses the mobile version of a site for indexing and ranking.
  • Desktop Crawling: Before 2020, Google predominantly crawled desktop versions.
  • Transition Timeline: Experiments began in 2016, and by 2019, mobile-first indexing was applied to new websites. By March 2020, approximately 70% of sites had transitioned.
  • Completion Goal: Google aimed to complete the transition by March 2021 but some sites still needed to transition as of February 2023.
  • Non-Mandatory: Websites without mobile versions can still appear in SERPs, but mobile-friendly sites are strongly recommended.

Why is Mobile-First Indexing Important?

Mobile-first indexing is crucial as it aligns with the significant increase in mobile search usage. Approximately 65% of searches are conducted on mobile devices, highlighting the need for mobile-friendly websites.


  • Enhanced User Experience: Encourages webmasters to create mobile-friendly websites.
  • Improved Search Results: Ensures users receive the best experience on mobile devices.
  • SEO Advantage: Mobile-friendly sites are prioritized, improving their visibility in search results.

Mobile-First Indexing Best Practices

To align with mobile-first indexing and enhance both SEO and user experience, follow these best practices:

1. Content Accessibility:

Ensure Googlebot can access content and resources on your mobile pages. Use the same robots meta tags for both desktop and mobile versions.

2. Consistent Primary Content:

Make sure the primary content is identical on both versions. Serving less content on the mobile version can lead to traffic declines.

3. Structured Data:

Include structured data on both versions and use correct URLs in the mobile version’s structured data.

4. Meta Tags:

Ensure title tags and meta descriptions are the same on both desktop and mobile versions.

5. Responsive Design:

Use responsive design if possible to provide a seamless experience across devices.

6. Mobile Usability Report:

Regularly check the ‘Mobile usability’ report in Google Search Console to identify and fix issues.

7. Mobile-Friendly Navigation:

Offer intuitive and easy-to-use navigation for mobile users.

8. Site Audit:

Use tools like Ranktracker to run a Site Audit with a mobile user-agent to detect SEO issues.

By adhering to these best practices, you can ensure that your website is optimized for mobile-first indexing, providing a better experience for mobile users and improving your site's search engine ranking.