Google postpones the deadline for mobile-first indexing to March 2021
Google set September 2020 as the deadline to start using mobile-first indexing to fully transition to crawling and indexing websites, but today announced that website owners will have more time to prepare. The deadline has been extended to March 2021.
Mobile-first indexing is a long-term plan launched by Google for new domains in July 2019. The company said that “these uncertain times” were the reason for delaying the next phase of launch. The announcement also cited further tests that showed that the site encountered many common problems during the transition. Google urges website owners to pay close attention to the following important issues:
- The Robots meta tag on the mobile version should match the desktop version, otherwise, Google may not be able to index or track the link for the page.
- Don’t delay the loading of main content based on user interaction (such as swiping, clicking, or typing), because Googlebot will not trigger these user interactions.
- Avoid the bad practice of using smaller images on mobile phones to fit smaller screens. Small, low-quality images will not be well indexed.
- Make sure that only the content on the mobile version matches the content on the desktop because only the mobile version will be used for indexing and ranking in Search.
- Add meaningful alternative text to the image.
Google also outlines some other techniques for labelling and placing images and videos. The announcement is essentially a tutorial on how to improve common errors that can negatively affect mobile device ranking and indexing.
Since most of the currently crawled sites have enabled mobile-first indexing, some speculate that the delayed deadline is due to mobile subdomain sites that have been migrated in a hurry. Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller confirmed this situation and advised website owners to avoid this outdated method and update it at the nearest opportunity.
Before the advent of responsive design, many WordPress site owners have added plugins that will create a separate mobile website to provide a more mobile browsing experience. Site visitors will soon expect that the devices they can carry with them can use the entire network. This is now the main way people interact with the web, and Google’s mobile-first indexing technology reflects this new reality.
If your WordPress site is still relying on plugins to create a separate mobile website, or you are using plugins for lazy loading, make sure that the solution adopted follows Google ’s best practices for mobile-first indexing. It will still take 9 months for Google to prioritize the indexing and ranking of mobile devices in the default locations across the web.