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This week, Google announced it will begin adding new websites to its mobile-first index by default beginning July 1. However, older sites that have yet to be added to the mobile-first index will still be exempt until they are updated to be mobile-friendly.

In the announcement, Google explained that “mobile-first indexing will be enabled by default for all new, previously unknown to Google Search, websites starting July 1, 2019. It’s fantastic to see that new websites are now generally showing users – and search engines – the same content on both mobile and desktop devices.”

While new sites will be moved to the mobile-first index, older sites which have not been added will not be migrated over yet.

“For older websites, we’ll continue monitoring and evaluating pages for their readiness for mobile first indexing and will notify them through Search Console once they’re seen as being ready,” as the announcement said.

No Notifications

Google has been notifying site owners when their site has been migrated to the mobile-first index through Search Console notifications. However, this will not be the case for new sites that are added to the index by default.

“Since the default state for new websites will be mobile-first indexing, there’s no need to send a notification,” Google stated.

What is the mobile-first index?

Google’s mobile-first index is the search engines primary way of cataloging sites across the internet. Launched a few years ago, the mobile-first index analyses the mobile version of a page first and uses that information to rank web pages. Although it started small, the index has become Google’s primary search engine index with more than 50% of what is indexed by Google being added to the mobile-first index.

The news adds even more motivation to new site creators and business owners to ensure they provide a smooth experience with the same content on both desktop and mobile when the site is launched. Not only will many of your customers likely visit your site through mobile devices, but how mobile-friendly your site is will directly affect your search engine ranking.

Everyone wishes there was a simple recipe to guarantee you’ll rank at the top of the search engines, but Google’s Gary Illyes says there is no such thing. In fact, there isn’t even a consistent top-three ranking factors for all content.

Instead, Illyes explains that the top-ranking factors for web pages vary depending on the query being searched. Going by that thought process, factors like links might be used to verify that something is newsworthy, while page speed, content quality, and keyword usage may be more useful for some types of content.

John Mueller, also a big figure at Google, joined the discussion to suggest that worrying about optimizing for specific ranking factors is “short-term thinking.”

Surprisingly, Illyes takes it even further by saying that links – often viewed as one of the most important signals for a website – are often not a factor in the search results at all. Long-tail search queries, in particular, are likely to pull up content with few to no links.

While this can be discouraging to brands or businesses looking for specific ways to improve their site and rank higher, the overall message is clear. A holistic approach that prioritizes people’s needs and desires is bound to benefit you, while myopically focusing on specific factors is bound to eventually leave you left behind.

As Mueller suggests – if you build something awesome, Google will come.