Google, as expected, has decided to push off the deadline for going 100% into mobile-first indexing. The previous deadline was September 2020, but after COVID hit, Google said they may push this deadline back to give site owners more time to prepare during this time. Google decided this morning to push the deadline to March 2021.

Google said “our initial plan was to enable mobile-first indexing for all sites in Search in September 2020.” Google said it realizes “that in these uncertain times, it’s not always easy to focus on work as otherwise,” Google thus “decided to extend the timeframe to the end of March 2021.”

Then Google posted issues it still sees sites making that can cause issues with a site being pushed to mobile-first indexing. If a site is moved to mobile-indexing and it has these issues, the site’s rankings in Google can and most likely will change – maybe for the worse.

Here is the abbreviated list from Google that you should double check between your desktop version and mobile version of your site:

  • 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

You can read Google’s full post on this over here.

Here are some recent tidbits from John Mueller of Google this morning on this announcement:

That’s basically the inverse of how it was before, when desktop URLs were sometimes shown in mobile serps. Ideally, you’d redirect by device type. M-dot sites do make things harder; for new sites I’d avoid them, for older sites, I’d fix with the next bigger revamp.

— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) July 22, 2020

Yeah, it’s not easy to move from m-dot, especially on larger sites with multiple front-ends & back-ends involved. I just wouldn’t take seeing an m-dot URL in desktop search as a sign of an issue, that’s visible (& confusing) but usually unproblematic.

— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) July 22, 2020

I’m not aware of any sites moving back after being switched to mobile-first indexing.

— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) July 22, 2020

So you have more time to deal with this, but I suspect almost all of you, for almost all of your clients, are already on mobile-first indexing. You can check to see if your site is on mobile-first indexing within Search Console and Google will also notify you of issues there.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

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