Google Mobile First Index Hidden Content

What’s this about?

This is an extract from TWIS SEO News & Updates 07 July 2017.

Google has claimed that hidden content will be fine under the looming Mobile First Index. I can’t see it working for search rankings, but, as I say in this post, if that is the case, then welcome to spam land.

If you would like to discuss ways to check your website and get it Mobile First ready, then please feel free to contact me.

#SEO #MobileFirst #MobileStrategy


Google Says Hidden Content “Fine” in Mobile First

Summary:

  • Great care needs to be exercised with these utterances from a recent Google Webmaster Hangout. They are talking about indexing content, which is different from ranking content.
  • Google has long said that visible content is what matters in indexing and ranking, but appears to be back-tracking on that for the Mobile First Index.
  • It appears they are allaying fears over the greater level of hiding content on mobile. “Don’t worry, it’ll be fine”.
  •  It’s not a sensible approach to rank pages on hidden content, even on mobile. Welcome to spam land, if they do.

Actions to take:

  1. Wherever possible surface critical content as visible on load, even on mobile.
  2. Be suspicious about some of these comments from Google. It’s likely they are allaying fears. They are also talking about indexing content, which is different from ranking content.
  3. Get your mobile first site sorted now. (Notice a recurring theme here?) That way impacts of going mobile first are already likely to be factored into your rankings.
  4. Contact me if you would like to discuss ways to make your mobile site Mobile First.

Discussion:

Google is spending a lot of time and effort allaying fears about the looming Mobile First Index. I’m almost tempted to believe them that there’ll be “no change”.  If there is to be no change, why bother with the index modification in the first place? Google has often claimed that it serves the right rankings to the right devices. It doesn’t make sense that Google would spend this much time and effort solving an issue which it seems to think it has already solved.

The idea that hidden content on mobile will carry the same weight as visible content is ludicrous – despite what Google claim. If it does, then naughty webmasters will spend a lot of time stuffing hidden tabs with lots and lots of spammy content in order to rank.

If you have a website with full content on desktop and hidden content on mobile, you are likely to find rankings differ significantly on launch of Mob ile First. If you have the same visible / hidden ratio for desktop and mobile, your rankings are unlikely to change.

Google ideally wants us all to have completely mobile first websites before they implement the switch. That way they can claim “no change”.

More info:

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Mobile First is NOT Mobile Friendly


TL;DR

Thanks for reading. If you would like to discuss what these changes mean for your web property, or would like to know how to implement them, please feel free to contact me.

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