Google announced that the deadline for switching to a completely mobile-first index has been canceled, and no date for a final switchover has been set. The final transition to a mobile-first index was postponed in order to accommodate the remaining websites that have not yet been updated to a mobile-friendly version.
Mobile-First Indexing by Google
The mobile-first index was designed to be an index of mobile-friendly web pages that could be used for ranking and search-related features such as snippets.
The reason for switching to a mobile-first index was to better serve the majority of Google search users who accessed Google primarily through mobile devices.
Google was attempting to solve the problem of showing search results from websites whose desktop versions that were indexed differed significantly from the mobile versions shown to searchers on mobile devices.
In 2016, Google stated:
“…our ranking systems still typically look at the desktop version of a page’s content to evaluate its relevance to the user.
This can cause issues when the mobile page has less content than the desktop page because our algorithms are not evaluating the actual page that is seen by a mobile searcher.”
The original plan was to move website indexing and web page ranking entirely to mobile-friendly documents, rather than using content from desktop versions for ranking and indexing.
However, that goal has been postponed for the time being, and the timeline has been left open-ended by Google.
The transition to a fully mobile-first index was scheduled for March 2021. That date, however, came and went.
Google has canceled the date for the mobile-first transition
Google announced in a new blog post (written by John Mueller) that the final date for a switch to a 100 percent mobile-first search index has been set aside, effectively canceling a switchover launch target date.
The announcement stated:
“..after analyzing the sites that are not yet indexed mobile-first, we’ve determined that some of these sites are still not ready to be shifted over due to various, unexpected challenges that they’re facing.
Because of these difficulties, we’ve decided to leave the timeline open for the last steps of mobile-first indexing.
…we thought that we could complete the move to mobile-first indexing by March 2021. However, we found that some sites were facing unexpectedly difficult challenges and we wanted to accommodate their timelines.
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.”
Changes to Google Site Indexing?
Google’s indexing has recently been in the news and a source of concern and debate on social media, with the perception that Google’s indexing has changed.
For the past month, the search marketing community has been concerned about search indexing, with many reporting that it has become increasingly difficult to have content indexed by Google, with search marketers from all over the world sharing data that appears to show that Google is indexing less content.
Bing has announced IndexNow, a new crawling protocol that promises to revolutionize how web pages are discovered and indexed. Google has since announced that it will investigate whether there are many
Mobile-First Search Index Postponed
For the time being, it appears that Google does not have firm plans to transition to a fully mobile-first search index. Google did not provide statistics on how many sites have failed to develop a mobile-friendly web presence, but it must be a significant number for Google to resist leaving those websites behind in the transition to a mobile-first index.