Google says mobile-first indexing is complete after almost 7 years

Google’s mobile-first indexing initiative that started just about seven years ago is now complete, according to Google. “It’s been a long road, getting from there to here. We’re delighted to announce that the trek to Mobile First Indexing is now complete,” John Mueller from Google wrote on the Google blog.

History. As a reminder, Google started mobile-first indexing over 6.5 years ago, and eventually, after publishing deadline after deadline, Google removed the deadline. Google first introduced mobile-first indexing back in November 2016, and by December 2018, half of all sites in Google’s search results were from mobile-first indexing. Mobile-first indexing simply means that Google will crawl your site from the eyes of a mobile browser and use that mobile version for indexing and ranking.

Google in early March 2020, before all the lockdowns 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.”  Then in July 2020, Google moved that deadline once again to March 2021.

But in May, Google told us that it was done switching sites over to mobile-indexing, so this announcement, that it is “done” now is a bit confusing.

What now. Google said there is “a very small set of sites which do not work on mobile devices at all.” Google explained that those “are primarily that the page shows errors to all mobile users, that the mobile version of the site is blocked with robots.txt while the desktop version is allowed for crawling, or that all pages on the mobile site redirect to the homepage.”

Google said these types of issues are issues that Google cannot workaround. Google said it will “continue to try to crawl these sites with our legacy desktop Googlebot crawler for the time being, and will re-evaluate the list a few times a year.”

Google will also reduce its crawling with legacy desktop Googlebot.

Search Console changes. Google also announced that it will be turning off the indexing crawler information in the settings page in Google Search Console. Google is removing this because the “information is no longer needed since all websites that work on mobile devices are now being primarily crawled with our mobile crawler,” Google explained.

Why we care. That is all folks – this is one for the history books. Mobile-first indexing is now really done, and Google will soon stop crawling via its legacy desktop crawler completely.

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