In another video from the Lightning Talks series, Google employee Martin Splitt spoke about the most common problems that sites face in connection with mobile-first indexing.
According to SearchEngines, these problems can be divided into two categories: problems with mobile scanning and problems with mobile content.
1. Problems with mobile scanning
Various problems can arise when Google crawls with the mobile version of Googlebot. For example, depending on the user-agent, the server may process the request differently. Or something might go wrong when sending a request to the mobile pages.
If this happens, then there will be practically no information that Google can get from the pages. This means that Google will not be able to get the necessary signals to show pages in search results.
2. Problems with mobile content
Other problems can be directly related to the content. Such situations are possible if the site has separate mobile pages with content different from the desktop version.
When Google gets less information from a page, it cannot properly determine its relevance. And this, in turn, will affect the ranking of the page in the search results.
How to avoid these problems
To avoid this kind of problem, Splitt recommends the following:
- Don’t prevent Googlebot from crawling pages using the Disallow directive in robots.txt;
- Don’t use the noindex meta tags;
- Don’t stop Googlebot from crawling mobile CSS;
- Do not prevent Googlebot from following internal links.
In addition to checking for directives in the robots.txt file, noindex and nofollow tags, site owners also need to check the server’s crawl capacity. Ideally, the server should be able to handle as many desktop scans as mobile scans.
Content of mobile pages
Splitt also reminded site owners that the content displayed when viewing a page on mobile devices should be identical to what users see on a desktop device. If site owners intentionally hide some content on mobile pages, then problems are possible.
For example, on mobile pages, users may be prompted to click on the “See more” button to expand and view the content. This should be avoided because Googlebot does not interact with page elements. It can only scan what is immediately displayed.
As a result, after the site is transferred to mobile-first indexing, Google will receive incomplete information and will not be able to rank pages as well as it did before.
Therefore, it is important that the content on the desktop and mobile versions of the page matches as much as possible, including structured data and meta descriptions.
Splitt also provided examples of correct and incorrect header and image tags.
It is also important to check the position of images and videos on the page and avoid situations with a deterioration of the user experience when viewing the page on mobile devices due to the addition of ads on the first screen, etc.
NIX Solutions remminds that earlier Google postponed the transition to mobile-first indexing until March 2021. This decision was made on the basis of feedback: statistics showed that the sites did not make the necessary changes due to lack of resources.