Google has announced a limited roll-out of its mobile-first index, offering the platform to a handful of sites that have been closely monitored by the Google search team for testing. According to officials, the initial migration will be slow and tightly controlled to ensure successful implementation.
In the meantime, the following advice from Google’s webmasters will help ensure a mostly seamless migration:
Text, images and video content on your site should be optimised for mobile. Clear out old or outdated content, and replace with high-quality articles, posts and images in indexable and crawlable formats.
Indexing platforms and search features love structured data, so make sure both your mobile and desktop versions have been updated accordingly.
You should have metadata on both the desktop and mobile versions of your site. These provide crucial hints to indexes and servers about the content contained in your pages, so make sure metadata is consistent across versions for all site pages.
According to Google, there’s no need to make any changes to interlinks with separate mobile m.-dot sites. If your site uses separate mobile URLs, it’s fine to keep existing link elements in their current form.
Check hreflang links
If your site uses separate mobile URLs with hreflang links for internationalisation, be sure to link between desktop and mobile URLs separately. The hreflang links on mobile should point to other mobile versions, while hreflang links on desktop should point to other desktop versions.
In order to handle what could be a significant boost in crawl rate once your site has been migrated to Google’s mobile-first index, make sure your host servers have the capacity to manage the increase. Sites that incorporate responsive design and dynamic serving won’t be affected, but if your mobile version uses a separate host server, you may need to make an adjustment.
There’s no word from Google on when webmasters can expect a wider release of the mobile-first index, as officials plan to evaluate sites for readiness on a case-by-case basis and exercise caution in transitioning only those sites that are ready for mobile-first indexing.