Google’s Mobile-First Index

Google’s Mobile-First Index

Google has been stressing the need for webmasters to provide their users with a positive mobile experience for some time. And that makes sense; 3 out of every 5 searches happen on mobile, and mobile far outpaces desktop as the number one method of searching. Like all search engines, Google’s chief concern is getting users to the right page with correct information and a positive user experience. They don’t want to send their users to a page that makes them pinch and poke a screen they can barely read.

Encouraging a responsive, or a mobile-friendly website at the very least, has been a strong ranking factor since Mobilegeddon in 2015. Before this, Google had been using the desktop version of websites to determine how they would be indexed in their search engine results pages. Then Google began indexing desktop site versions for desktop searches and mobile site versions for mobile searches.

Last year though, Google announced that they would be moving to a mobile-first index, meaning they’ll be using a website’s mobile experience to rank searches on tablets and desktops, not just mobile devices. In short, Google will be using the mobile version as their primary search engine index. What does that mean for your website? It means the content, header tags, load speed and site structure of your mobile version will now not only affect and determine your mobile rankings, it will the version used to determine your desktop rankings.

How Should Webmasters & Marketers Prepare?

Of course, you’ll want to start paying extra close attention to your site’s mobile experience. If you have a responsive website, this shouldn’t be too tricky; the data should be pulling the same for mobile and desktop, but we do recommend a thorough check. If you have a mobile-version website, you’ll want to conduct a full audit on all standard SEO features. You can check out our list of SEO Basics for reference. If, for example, your mobile version has less content than your desktop version, this could negatively affect your rankings across both mobile and desktop searches.

Luckily, you can use expandable text boxes. Google understands that mobile offers less room and that content can take up a lot of space. Feel free to use collapsible text boxes that previously yielded negative points for desktop experiences. It is a good idea to spend some time thinking about the content on your site. For example, perhaps you’re accustomed to writing long blog articles of more than 2,000 words. While this is fine for desktop, you may want to be a bit more concise for mobile users.

If you do have a mobile website, it may be time to move to a responsive website design. What makes a website responsive is that it changes layout based on the screen you’re using. A mobile site, by contrast, will always render the same, and it will be separate from your desktop version. Responsive websites have tons of benefits. For one, search engines are partial to them. And better rankings mean more traffic means more revenue. When you operate under a responsive website, you won’t have to go through changing two templates. Google claims there won’t be too many changes in rankings, but if you aren’t responsive, we highly suggest you give us a call and we can set you up with a custom responsive website for your business!