Google delays mobile-first indexing deadline to March 2021


Google has announced that it wants to give more time to webmasters, SEOs and developers to prepare for the transition to mobile-first indexing. The deadline has been moved from September 2020 to March 2021.


What is Mobile First indexing and why this postponement?

Our experts explain everything in this article.


What is Google’s Mobile First Index?


If you are interested in SEO, you have surely heard about Google’s new indexing process: the Mobile First Index. It corresponds to the crawl system now performed by a robot in mobile version and no longer in desktop version. The Mobile First Index represents the new way to analyze a website by Google.


Why has Google opted for the Mobile First Index?


Always putting the user experience (UX) at the center of its concerns, Google has developed this new algorithm in order to make the UX evolve towards mobile devices. Until recently, Google’s index was based on the use of a site in desktop mode (on a computer). However, with the changing behaviour of consumers on the web who have become more addicted to their mobile devices, Google has decided to use the mobile index primarily for search engine results pages (SERPs).

In France, 54% of Internet users now surf only on mobile and 69% combine several screens. Given that the mobile is currently the world’s main Internet access device, it is not surprising that Google has decided to introduce this new update in the algorithm.


How do you know if your site is managed by the mobile first index?


When mobile indexing first has been activated on your site, you will receive the following message in your Google Search Console account:


When you connect to your Search Console for the first time you may also receive this message: “Mobile-oriented indexing has been activated on your site”.

It is always possible to see which type of Google robot is used to crawl your pages by referring to the “coverage” report of your Search Console.

If your site was created after July 1, 2019, the question doesn’t even arise because it is automatically managed by the Mobile First Index.


Does the Mobile First Index have an impact on your SEO?


A site not adapted to mobile has consequences on the user experience. But it can also have an impact on your SEO! With Mobile First, it is not the positioning criteria of the Google algorithm that have changed, but rather the indexing method. However, we must keep in mind that mobile pages are crawled in priority and that this can have an indirect impact on the ranking.

Indeed, there are two main cases:


– Your website is not adapted to mobiles: you may encounter difficulties to position yourself in Google’s SERP, since only sites optimized for mobiles can be!

-Your website has a version adapted to mobiles: if you fail to meet certain obligations and the mobile version of your site is not totally “mobile friendly”, it may be that your ranking is impacted by the Mobile First Index.

Unless you already have a mobile friendly site, it is therefore crucial to go “mobile first” if you want to keep a good ranking.


How to adapt to the Mobile First Index?


Adapting to the Mobile First Index is above all to ensure that your site is “mobile friendly”.

If you already have a mobile version, you can opt for improvements to the Mobile First Index:


– First make sure that the mobile version of your website has the same content as the desktop version: make sure that the texts, images and videos of your mobile version are equivalent to those of your desktop version.

– Fill in the structured data on both versions of your website: Feel free to test both versions of your website with the Search Console’s structured data test tool.

– Check that the metadata is identical on the desktop and mobile versions: your title and meta description tags must also be identical on both versions of your site.

– Test both versions of your site in the Search Console: Moving to mobile-oriented indexing can cause a data lag, so make sure you have access to data and messages from both versions of your site by checking in the Search Console.

– Verify that your mobile version is Googlebot-use the robot.txt tool to verify that your mobile version is accessible to Googlebot.

– Test the mobile performance of your site with Google Page Speed.

– To improve the performance of your site on mobile, use lazy-loading and/or opt for a WPA site with AMP.

¬ If your site is not suitable for mobile, go for responsive design!


Having a responsive site is essential in order to have a design that automatically adapts to the screen resolution. This is the most efficient method today in terms of SEO because it avoids having two versions of your site (one mobile and the other desktop) and therefore having distinct URLs. In addition to having a single URL, the metadata, backlinks and content of your page are identical. The time it takes to download your page is optimized and the work of exploring and indexing Googlebot is simplified.


Why is Google postponing the mobile-first indexing date?


Google previously announced that the deadline for all sites to move to mobile-first indexing would be September 2020.

However, because of the pandemic, Google said: “We realise that in these uncertain times it is not always easy to focus on work as before, so we have decided to extend the period until the end of March 2021. “This comes as no surprise, according to Search Land. Google had been suggesting that it could extend this deadline for months now.

In this mobile-first world, the desktop version will no longer be valuable. So keep in mind that if the mobile compatibility criteria are not met, you may negatively impact your SEO. But don’t worry! Thanks to this postponement, you have more time to make the necessary adaptations!


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