Google has been threatening its mobile-first indexing update for quite some time now, and most SEOs have been preparing for the inevitable over the past several months. While the enabling of mobile-first indexing for all sites in Search had initially been set for September 2020, we reported on an updated statement on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog in July that said an extension to March 2021 had been granted as a response to the pandemic. It came as a helping hand from the Search gods in a time of uncertainty and shifting priorities.
Now, Google’s John Mueller, in a keynote talk at Pubcon Pro Virtual 2020, has confirmed that the firm launch is, indeed, March 2021. With an official date set for five months in the future, and a wealth of new information gleaned from Mueller’s talk, we’ve got no excuse for being unprepared.
What can we expect in March 2021? Even if you think you were 100 percent ready for a September 2020 mobile-first indexing launch, don’t sit back and relax just yet. Mueller said that after more testing and evaluation over the past months, Google has uncovered a few more issues that could help SEOs be even better prepared.
The biggest news is that desktop-only sites will be removed from Google’s index entirely. But that’s not all: Any images or assets in a desktop-only version of a site will also be dropped from Google’s index and will disappear from results on Google Images. In Mueller’s words, Google will “essentially ignore” any- and everything found only on a desktop site.
Another key takeaway involves m-Dot sites – sites that are designed specifically for mobile devices and hosted on a separate subdomain. Some SEOs might see their desktop browser users being sent to the mobile version of the site from Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs).
So, what can you do if this happens to you?
“The only solution there is essentially to make sure that you redirect your users from the m-Dot version to the desktop version when they use a desktop browser,” Mueller said. “And I don’t see us changing this in the near future or probably at all.”
With these extra nuggets of valuable insight (and the fact that over 70 percent of all websites are already mobile-optimized), March 2021 should come and go without too many hurdles – theoretically, of course.
More SEO News You Can Use
Say Hello to a Bunch of Nifty New Google Search Updates: Google Search just got a whole lot better. In the Search On 2020 live stream, Google’s Prabhakar Raghavan announced a slew of new core Search functions that have all been made possible by recent advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) technology. These include more specific answers to targeted questions, updates to Google Lens and a new algorithm that can decipher misspellings with more accuracy than ever before. But, in typical Google fashion, it’s not all neural nets and advanced AI. One fun new feature lets you hum, whistle or sing a song into your smartphone, and Google will try to identify your earworm for you (no matter how off-key you might be).
Bing Has Relaunched Its Site Explorer: Microsoft calls it a “relaunch,” but it’s a complete revamp of the old version. The new Bing Site Explorer is a nifty tool that shows you exactly how Microsoft Bing sees your site and most URLs across the web – the redirects, the broken links and the blocked URLs. This invaluable information, stored in a “file explorer-like fashion,” reveals exactly how Bing crawls, indexes and categorizes websites, and should provide ample flexibility for SEOs to understand, debug and optimize their own site’s internal structure. Explore the new Bing Site Explorer tool and see for yourself.
Martin Splitt Has All the SEO Answers For Single-Page Apps: Need a quick SEO fix for single-page apps? Google’s Martin Splitt has you covered in the latest Google Lightning Talks video. The main takeaways from Splitt’s talk are these: Cover all your code paths, treat views as URLs, optimize the titles and descriptions for each view and improve the app’s response to errors. Splitt provides fixes for a number of issues SEOs regularly encounter when optimizing single-page apps, from content that can’t be rendered by Google’s mobile-friendly test to titles and descriptions that aren’t properly optimized, and it’s well worth a watch.
Google Analytics 4 Has Arrived: And it’s brought with it some interesting new features that should make long-term marketing plans easier to implement. The new and improved Google Analytics, an expansion of the App + Web beta launched last year, has machine learning at its core and the power to give users an intimate understanding of their customers across all platforms and devices. Smarter insights and deeper Google Ads integrations mean increased audience customization will be a viable marketing strategy, and the face of marketing as we know it could change significantly.
Shopify Is Helping Merchants Expand Their Reach on a Global Scale: Major eCommerce platform Shopify is introducing a host of new international features. Chief among them is international domains – a way for users to manage multiple domains and languages from a single account, using country code top-level domains (ccTLD), subdomains or a combination of the two. But that’s not all. Shopify is also focusing on international SEO, automating hreflang and XML sitemaps to significantly simplify the optimization process. With big moves like these from major players like Shopify, the eCommerce boom won’t slow down anytime soon.
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