Mobile-First Indexing: Google's seven-year journey reaches its triumphant conclusion

In a monumental announcement, Google declared the completion of its ambitious seven-year project: mobile-first indexing. John Mueller, representing the tech giant, penned the news, emphasizing the significance of reaching this milestone.

Tracing Back the Footsteps

For those needing a refresher, Google embarked on this mobile-centric path slightly over six years ago. Amidst various deadlines and extensions, Google's determination never wavered. The concept was introduced in November 2016, and astonishingly, by December 2018, half the sites appearing in Google search results were utilizing mobile-first indexing. This methodology essentially implies that Google scrutinizes a website from the viewpoint of a mobile browser and ranks it accordingly.

March 2020 painted an interesting picture. As the world grappled with impending lockdowns, Google proclaimed that by September 2020, all sites would mandatorily transition to mobile-first indexing. Yet, plans shifted as, in July 2020, the finish line was extended to March 2021.

However, a declaration in May proclaimed that Google had already transitioned sites to mobile-indexing. Thus, the recent announcement declaring the project's completion does raise some eyebrows.

Looking Forward

Despite the enormous success, there exists a minuscule fraction of sites incompatible with mobile devices. These discrepancies range from sites displaying errors exclusively to mobile users, mobile versions obstructed by robots.txt, or those where every mobile site page reroutes to the main landing page. These challenges are unassailable even for Google. The plan? Google aims to periodically crawl these sites using their traditional desktop Googlebot, revisiting the strategy intermittently.

Simultaneously, there will be a diminishing reliance on the legacy desktop Googlebot.

Transitioning Tools

Google also unveiled plans to deactivate the indexing crawler information on the Google Search Console's settings page. With mobile-first indexing becoming ubiquitous, such information is deemed redundant.

The Takeaway

It's a wrap! As we witness the closing chapter of this transformative journey, the digital world stands on the cusp of a new era. The legacy desktop crawler's days are numbered, and mobile-first indexing stands tall as the triumphant victor.

Photo: DIW

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