There might still be some time until Google launches its mobile-first Index. Recent reports indicate that we might see Google rolling out the mobile-first index sometime in 2018.
For those who are still operating with a mobile website (m-dot) version this is a good time to start thinking about changing over to a responsive web design.
But why make the change before the mobile-first index rolls out?
For those who are new to the concept of a mobile-first index, we highly recommend that you read the blog we had recently published on our website. The blog will give you a brief Introduction to the concept of Mobile-First Index and the impact it will have on search.
There are mainly two reasons for the push towards a mobile responsive web design moving forward;
- As the mobile-first Index rolls out, Google will use the mobile version of a website to gather information over the web and build its Index. If you have a mobile website (m-dot) that serves different (lesser) content from the desktop version then you run the risk of losing your rankings.
- If you move from the m-dot version to a responsive design after the launch of the mobile-first index then it might take months for Google to fully index your m-dot website.
While the above two benefits are directly related to the mobile-first Index, there are plenty of other benefits for moving to responsive web design, these include;
- Responsive web design essentially means one URL for each page, therefore, it is easier for a webmaster to manage the website as compared to an m-dot website.
- Reduces the mistakes that happen during web design process.
- Reduces the load time of the webpage as there is no need for redirection in order to get a device-optimised view.
- A responsive web design will allow you to use newer technologies such as Google AMP and Structured Data (Rich Cards).
- Leads to better results with SEO because the Googlebot does not have to crawl the website multiple times, once for the desktop version and then again for the m-dot version of the website. This improvement in crawling efficiency can indirectly help Google index more of your website’s content and keep it appropriately fresh.
Moving towards a Mobile Responsive Web Design
Making the switch from an m-dot website to a responsive web design will mean that you need to take a few steps to ensure that the transition is smooth and satisfies any Googlebot requirements.
- Get a responsive website ready.
- Configure 301 redirects on the old mobile URLs to point to the responsive versions (the new pages). These redirects need to be done on a per-URL basis, individually from each mobile URLs to the responsive URLs.
- Remove any mobile-URL specific configuration your site might have, such as conditional redirects or a vary HTTP header.
- As a good practice, setup rel=canonical on the responsive URLs pointing to themselves (self-referential canonicals).
If you’re currently using dynamic serving and want to move to responsive design, you don’t need to add or change any redirects.
Source- Google Webmaster Blog