Mobile Usability is Not Related to Mobile-First Indexing

We’ve been hearing a lot about mobile-first indexing lately, as the latest development in Google’s ever-continuing efforts to make the web more mobile-friendly and reflect user behavior trends.

But there’s also a lot of confusion around what this means for the average business owner. Do you have to change anything? Everything? If your site is mobile-friendly, will that be good enough?

In this post I’ll go over the basics of what “mobile-first indexing” means, and what you may need to do about it. I’ll also answer some frequently asked questions about mobile-first indexing and what it means for our SEO efforts.Google’s John Mueller clarified that content may be still moved to mobile-first indexing despite not passing the mobile usability test.This topic came up during the January 11th Google Webmaster Central hangout.A site owner submitted a question regarding what they perceived to be conflicting information in Search Console.

Search Console’s ‘mobile usability’ report shows the site has a number of valid URLs.However, the information does not line up with what Search Console is telling them about pages being ready for mobile-first indexing.

Mueller responded by saying mobile usability is “completely separate” from mobile-first indexing.Web pages can be moved to mobile-first indexing even if they’re not considered usable on mobile.

Mueller provided an example, saying PDFs can be added to mobile-first indexing even though they are terrible to navigate on mobile.As long as Google can crawl all the text, and it can be displayed on a mobile device, then it can be added to mobile-first indexing.Do not look to Google’s mobile usability test, or the report in Search Console, as an indication of whether your site is ready for the mobile-first index.

Hear the full question and answer in the video below, starting at the 41:12 mark.

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