Googlebot will index the mobile version on new sites.
Registering a new domain name to launch a website? Make sure the content works well on mobile devices.
Google announced today that any new sites/domain names it indexes will be on a mobile-first basis. This means its Googlebot will crawl a mobile version of the site for indexing rather than a desktop version.
The search giant already does this for many websites, but for existing websites, it determines if they are ready for mobile first before using the mobile Googlebot. Not so with new websites; they must be ready to go out of the gate.
Of course, almost all new websites are mobile friendly and this is why Google is making the change.
In a blog post about the change, it noted that it still supports dynamic serving and mobile URLs but it advises against it. Instead, site owners should use responsive design. (Can we just get rid of .mobi already?)
I find Google’s desire for fully responsive sites to be somewhat in conflict with its AMP program, which uses separate URLs for fast-loading mobile pages.
Mobile-first indexing doesn’t require that a website is mobile friendly or that content “works well on mobile”. You can have a site from 1995 that looks terrible on mobile and Google will still switch it to mobile-first indexing as long as you don’t have two different versions of the content or missing structured data or something else wonky.
Mobile friendliness is a different ranking factor that only impacts your ranking in mobile search.
You can think of it as multiple steps:
1. Relevancy: with mobile-first indexing, read the content as it appears on a mobile device, score relevancy (we don’t care how it looks here)
2. Mobile-friendliness: only if it’s a mobile search, demote due to poor mobile usability.
3. Other ranking factors…