Google announced Wednesday that it has decided to give webmasters, SEOs, developers and developers more time to prepare for the mobile-first indexing switchover. The deadline has been moved from September 2020 to March 2021.
Previously. Google in early March, before all the lock-downs began across most of the world, announced the deadline for all sites to switch over to mobile-first indexing would be September 2020. At that time, Google said, “To simplify, we’ll be switching to mobile-first indexing for all websites starting September 2020.”
Now. Now that we are still knee-deep in this pandemic, Google said, “We realize that in these uncertain times, it’s not always easy to focus on work as otherwise, so we’ve decided to extend the timeframe to the end of March 2021.” This does not come as a surprise. Google has been dropping hints that it may push off the mobile-first deadline for months now.
Most sites switched already. Most sites have already been switched to mobile-first indexing. In early March, Google said that “70% of those shown in our search results have already shifted over.” I am sure that number is a bit higher now. In fact, all new sites by default are indexed using mobile-first indexing. You can check if your site has moved over by logging into Google Search Console. More on how to do that over here.
Years in the making. Google started the mobile-first indexing process in 2016. Google has been working up to this point for almost four-years now. We have had plenty of time to get ready for this and it should come as no surprise to anyone here. Google said mobile-first indexing “has been an ongoing effort of Google for several years.”
Prepare. If you have sites that you manage that are still not migrated over, Google documented some of the issues you should look into to that may be holding the site up from being automatically migrated to mobile-first indexing. Here is a summary listing of what Google wrote but check out Google’s post for more details:
- Robots meta tags on mobile version
- Lazy-loading on mobile version
- Be aware of what you block
- Make sure primary content is the same on desktop and mobile
- Check your images and videos including
- Image quality
- Alt attributes for images
- Different image URLs between desktop and mobile version
- Video markup
- Video and image placement
Why we care. While you no longer need to get your sites ready by September 2020, aim to get your site ready before next March. It is best that Google migrates your site voluntarily when it’s mobile-ready than to simply force your site on mobile-first indexing. If your site is migrated before the deadline, it means Google feels the site is ready and won’t see harm to its rankings when it is migrated.