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    Peak Ace on Air #36: Mobile-first indexing for everyone

    Another week, another new episode of Peak Ace on Air! This time as accurate as ever as Bastian and Domi were talking about Google’s move to mobile-first indexing in March 2021. Or technically we should talk about mobile-only indexing. Why so? In this episode you’ll find out!

    Before Bastian and Domi got into the topic of the week they discussed a bit about their experiences with virtual workshops. And quite fitting, because just before the episode had aired, Bastian had been spending the last two days hosting a technical SEO workshop at SMX Munich. And what’s even more fitting, is that next week’s episode will be about events and our guest will be an ex-event manager from SEMrush, Alexandra Panyukhina. So make sure to tune in on via Facebook, Linkedin or Youtube, or just watch this space a few days later.

    Mobile-first indexing: a brief history

    First off, Bastian took us on a trip down memory lane by explaining the history of Google’s move to mobile-first indexing. Mobile traffic surpassed desktop traffic in 2015, which was the catalyst for the reprioritisation of mobile functionality.  Then in 2017, at SMX Advanced in Seattle, Google went on stage and finally came out and said the words: “mobile-first indexing”.

    For years, websites had different setups for mobile, from responsive and m-dot solutions. Last year, Google said that a responsive format is the recommended solution, as it enables the content to behave in the same way on all devices, making it an easy set-up to maintain.

    Mobile-first indexing should be mobile-only indexing

    At the PubCon conference in 2020, Google’s John Mueller confirmed that after March 2021, content which only can be found on desktop only will no longer be indexed. So if something can’t be found on your mobile website, or in the html, it won’t exist for Google, basically. Adam Riemer summarised this nicely in his tweet and which was also picked up by Search Engine Round Table in their article.

    Preparing for Google’s mobile-only index from Traffic Think Thank

    Traffic Think Tank created a very impressive and free resource on what to do and how to prepare for the indexing change. It’s full of tips, introducing different set-ups, some very technical approaches and various tools for navigating the changes.

    Google’s mobile-first indexing best practices

    Of course the search engine itself is coming up with directions on how to handle the change with their best practice guide. It gives some background information to the change but also talks about the common mistakes people make, like lazy-loading the wrong primary content.

    Google’s mobile-first index from Search Engine Journal

    Search Engine Journal reported  John Mueller’s statement about Google dropping desktop content from indexing and suggested the m-dot websites might be experiencing bugs. Or that Google might be having difficulties redirecting people to the desktop version of the m-dot sites. Interestingly, they didn’t specify why… So, it’s probably best to stick to the responsive version.

    Why mobile-only indexing will be the biggest SEO shake-up in 2021 by iPullRank

    Mike from iPullRank wrote a very thorough article on why this indexing change will be the biggest SEO shake-up in 2021. Sounds dramatic, but it’s a great read.  It’s a real deep-dive into every element that will be impacted by the change, down to word counts and internal links.

    They also put together a free tool, Parito, where you can compare different mobile and desktop crawls with different settings and pinpoint errors.


    So yes, March 2021 will be interesting while we wait for the change to mobile-only. But you needn’t panic: just do your homework and make sure your mobile site is well optimised. Also remember that people might have a different intent behind a search term on different devices. Mobile = on-the-go, desktop = at work, at home = on the couch, potentially.

    Anyway: if you have any concerns or more questions about the mobile-indexing’s impact on your website or not sure if your site needs optimisation, just drop us a line! We’ll be happy to help.

    Emily Wilson

    is a Marketing and Communications Manager at Peak Ace. She joined the company in 2021 and works in the Berlin office. When she isn’t writing for our blog, Emily enjoys travelling, writing, and working on craft projects.