One SEO professional asked John Mueller during the Question and Answer segment of a recent hangout about different content on mobile and desktop versions of their website.
Their question is: if there is a difference between content on the mobile and desktop version, does this mean that Google will punish the website and negatively impact the site’s ranking?
Or, does this mean that Googlebot can find it in the mobile version, but it won’t be able to rank?
John explained that for the most part, they have shifted their indexing to mobile-first indexing, which means they will only look at the mobile version of a site in any case like this.
So, if there is something that is slightly different on the desktop, or another website, we would, for the most part, not even use this for search.
So, it’s not that they would punish a site because of a difference, but rather they would just look at one version of the site, and Google won’t even know what is on the other version so they could actually treat it differently.
For the handful of sites that are still on desktop indexing, that applies the other way around.
Of course, if there is something on the mobile version, and you’re being indexed by the desktop crawler, then they wouldn’t really see that. They do crawl the alternative version from time to time.
However, they wouldn’t crawl it to pick up more information, but just to confirm that there is this connection between the desktop URL and the mobile URL.
This happens at approximately the 34:20 mark in the video.