How Does Mobile-First Indexing Influence Search Engine Rankings?

How Does Mobile-First Indexing Influence Search Engine Rankings?

Mobile-first indexing means that Google will take the mobile version of your website rather than the desktop version to kick off the indexing that ultimately determines the rank you get on the SERP. This latest change introduced by Google indicates a change in its search philosophy inasmuch the primary version of the website is taken to be the mobile version even if a desktop version is present. If no mobile version is available, Google will still index the desktop version but will interpret the absence of the mobile version as a factor that hurts the UX in the content that an overwhelming volume of Internet traffic is being driven by mobile devices. According to, all sites that were not known to Google previously will now be indexed using mobile-first indexing. Some valuable insights on the mobile-first index and the way it influences SEO and search rankings: 

Changing Informational Needs on Account of Mobile-First Index

Since every search query is liable to be unique, it is not possible to generalize on the type of content best suited for a mobile-first technology environment. The different query types can be long-tail queries, local search queries, informational queries, and transactional queries, how do I queries, research queries, personal search, and conversational search. 

Personal search and conversational search are the outcomes of the changing patterns of search conducted by users on mobile devices. In just the last couple of years, there has been a very large increase in searches that include highly conversational and personal language using terms like “I”, “my,” and “me”. According to Google, generally, three categories of personal searches are observed; solving a problem, exploring around me, and getting things done. 

Apart from the way they are framed, both personal and conversational search represents a significant change in what users are looking for on the web and the content should be appropriately created to address these new requirements. The length and depth of the content, the need for images, videos, maps, diagrams, etc. can be all different depending on the type of the query. Content managers will do well to keep the search intent in mind when creating the content so that users have access to the best solutions.

Attempt to Satisfy the Maximum Number of Users

A look at the SERPs will reveal the diverse nature of websites; while some may be information, others may be review sites, and yet others, educational. The differences indicate that users are trying to solve multiple problems, however, Google is likely to rank sites based on the most common search intent. Allowing Google SERPs to guide content strategy is a good idea and can point to the need for short-form or long and in-depth content. The mobile-first index is just an additional input for understanding the most common search intent and what kind of content can satisfy them, according to a senior Atomic Design SEO consultant.

Time of the Day Affects User Intent 

Each search query demands a unique result because the search intent may be different. Additionally, time can be a factor that affects the search intent, which in turn is an observation of the needs of users regarding information type, convenience, and speed of access. According to Google, searches on mobiles are more in the mornings and late afternoons and evenings but desktops take over during the workday. Thus, it is clear that the mobile-first index is just an addition of a new layer to search relevance that goes beyond the on-page keywords and explores new dimensions in the search intent. What is relevant in the morning may not be so during the afternoon. Google has clarified that it may show content that is may not be mobile-friendly or even slow loading if there are enough signals to indicate that it may be the most relevant content to display. It is quite obvious the device itself and the time of the day can be SEO signals.

Mobile-First Is All About User Convenience 

The fundamental reason why Google even thought about giving mobile devices more importance is because it wanted to make lives easier for the maximum number of people recognizing the increasing tendency of people to search the web on the go with their smartphones. The algorithm needs to figure out whether the search intent demands a quick answer or a detailed solution. It is obvious that web pages that deliver answers faster offer a comparison between products, and otherwise delivers answers that satisfy the search intent better will be accorded priority in rankings.

Concept of Relevance Changes in a Mobile-First Index Scenario

In a mobile-first index scenario, the concept of relevant content can undergo a significant change even as Google continues to focus on satisfying the user intent to the best possible extent. Users search for different things on different devices and the mobile-first index focus does not change the information that is to be ranked. There is a constant change in the user intent and sometimes the change is due to the ability of Google to comprehend what it is that satisfies users. Some of the changes that Google makes in its search algorithm reflect the changes in how Google understands search intent. The ability of Google to interpret and understand search intent is constantly improving and this naturally impacts the search rankings. Accordingly, the way website managers deliver the best experience to users also needs to change. One of how improved solutions have been devised involves understanding the demographic profiles of the people using mobile devices to the extent of pinpointing the exact type of device because it can provide an insight into the age group of the person who is firing a search query.


Despite the constant change in Google’s search algorithm, it is clear that there has been no change in Google’s wish to deliver the best possible search solutions to its users. The change has been in that users want, their demographics, when they want, and what device they use to express their want. These changes require content managers to adapt so that they can satisfy the search intent. The mobile-first index is a reflection of the changing needs of the user, not an arbitrary response by Google to give preference to one set of content over others.

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