Understanding Mobile First Indexing

If you’ve made the move to a ‘mobile-friendly’ website, then you’ve scored yourself a huge tick in Google’s eyes. However, there’s more to mobile optimisation than you might think. Here’s a list of technical SEO elements you need to bear in mind, specifically for mobile first indexing.

What is mobile first indexing?

Simply put, Google crawls results using a mobile user agent. It still serves its results from the same index, but the user agent looks for mobile friendly sites, instead of desktop friendly ones.

Your website can be mobile-friendly in one of two ways:

Responsive web design 

If you have embraced responsive web design (RWD) and you’re generally good at optimising your site, your SEO performance is probably fairly reasonable. RWD is something all webmasters should have embraced. It’s Google’s preferred design pattern and means that your site simply adjusts to the screen resolution of different devices.

Mobile versions 

An alternative to RWD is dynamic serving. This is having a separate version of your site for mobile, with different HTML code that is displayed to users when the mobile user agent is detected. This can sometimes present some issues with SEO performance.

RWD is recommended as you only need to do one lot of optimising to your site as there is only one version, which adapts according to device.

With dynamic serving, you essentially have two versions to optimise. If you opt for having a mobile version of your site, then you will need to consider the following technical SEO elements:

Structured data

Structured data a way of marking up important information on your website, that drives rich snippets in Google’s search results pages. It’s considered an essential part of SEO, so not only must you do it for desktop version, you must also do it for your mobile version. You will need to ensure your structured data is similar across both versions for consistency and make sure you verify it so it’s valid.


Don’t neglect to put 301 redirects in place on your mobile version. If you’re redirecting an old page that’s got a 404 error, to an alternative page on your site with relevant content, be sure to do the exact same on your mobile version, otherwise your mobile site will not perform as well as your desktop version.

Internal linking

Your internal link structure is what indicates how relevant you are to a user search. It’s a signal to Google of online relevance, which indicates your page rank (PR). You should aim to keep the page rank flowing. Page rank is an important rank factor for Google determining where you should appear in the SERPs. If PR is distributed across your site, your website performs better. Many webmasters have a tight internal link structure for their desktop site, but neglect their mobile site. Whilst it is more difficult to show links to deeper pages on a mobile site, you should aim for a manageable internal link structure that still distributes PR across your site, that’s as close to your desktop version as possible.

Need help with your business’s SEO? Whitefish Marketing agency in Kent work with businesses in the south east to improve their online visibility. Call us on 01303 720 288.


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