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We’re tracking Google’s Mobile-First Indexing, here’s how you can too

Posted on March 22, 2018

Google’s John Mueller gave a presentation at Search Marketing Expo (SMX) Munich earlier this week and has revealed some interesting new details about Mobile-First Indexing.

For us SEO’s, we have some important new details that we can use to track when Google begins the transition for sites that we manage. 

One of the new pieces of information was that site owners will receive a notification through Google Search Console (GSC) when indexing has changed to Mobile, along with an annotation within reports which I imagine will look something like this:

google-search-update.jpg?mtime=20180322103206#asset:727

While this information is extremely useful, an idea has been provided by John (very unusual for Google to give away this sort of information) for how you can track the transfer yourself.

It involves using the adding the following code to your website. This is in PHP, but you can adjust for whatever server-side language your website/CMS is written in:

<! -- User-agent: <?php echo $_SERVER[“HTTP_USER_AGENT”]; ?> -->

The idea is that you can log the user agent, basically the fingerprint of the computer accessing your website, in the HTML source code of your website.

Then you can check Google’s cached page source code, cleverly showing you which Googlebot, desktop or mobile, hit your website!

What comes next?

Apparently a considerable amount of sites have already made the transfer over to Mobile-First Indexing, although there haven’t been any reports of SEO’s getting the notification through GSC just yet.

I image that we will start to receive these soon though, and it will be an inbox explosion like we saw when the new Google Search Console Beta interface rolled out:

google-search-console-notifications.png?mtime=20180322104928#asset:728

Although instead of waiting for Google to decide when to tell you about the change, it’s worthwhile implementing this process to see first-hand for yourself.

We hope you found this guide useful, and we’ll keep you posted when our magic code has come into play – hopefully we can find out before Google tells us!

About the Author

Brodie Clark

Digital Campaign Manager

After working both in-house and agency-side for over 2 years, Brodie made the break from Brisbane to Melbourne in early 2017. The people, office space, and opportunity to talk with others about skateboarding at work forced him to beg James and Daniel for a job (thankfully they took him on). 

Brodie manages a portfolio of SEO clients here at Optimising and loves the daily challenge of staying on top of industry developments. Aside from his interest in SEO, Brodie enjoys performing nitty gritty tweaks and conversion tests to make an already-optimised page perform better and better. 

When he's not working on your website, you can find Brodie attending live music gigs or travelling.

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