Google launched Mobile-First - to use the mobile version of the web as their primary search engine index.
- Friday, 25 November 2016
- Jeanette Jaydee
Google’s mobile-first index means that if your site is not mobile-friendly, and if your content is not mobile-friendly, it is not going to rank as it would on desktop.
As most of you already know, Google announced Friday the 4th of November that they are going live with their test of their "mobile-first" index.
What is a mobile-first index?
Google’s mobile-first index means that if your site is not mobile-friendly, and if your content is not mobile-friendly, it is not going to rank as it would on desktop. Simply put: even if your content ranks on desktop, it might not rank on mobile if it is not mobile-friendly. During the announcement of Google’s mobile-first index, the search engine explained that they will rank mobile search listings based on the mobile version of your web content.
Quick Mobile Search Statistics:
- Over 55% of emails are now opened on mobile devices.
- It is estimated that mobile devices will account for 68% of all internet traffic by 2017.
- 4 in 5 consumers use mobile to shop.
- Searches are taking place more on mobile than on desktop in 10 countries, which include the U.S. and Japan
Understanding the “tech-talk”
- Indexing - Search engine indexing is the process of a search engine collecting, parses and stores data for use by the search engine, primarily through crawling the web through links. Once a search engine processes each of the pages it crawls, it compiles a massive index of all the words it sees and their location on each page. It is essentially a database of billions of web pages.
- Crawling is the process by which search engines discover updated content on the web, such as new sites or pages, changes to existing sites, and dead links.
- Retrieval is the first part of the search query. It comes before ranking in my example, but there’s a good chance that the actual algorithm does retrieval and ranking at the same time.
- Ranking is the part we obsess the most over. As SEO’s this is the area we are most concerned with and the part that allows us to show clients tangible progress. So in order for your site to rank well in search results pages, it's important to make sure search engines can crawl and index your site correctly - otherwise they will be unable to appropriately rank your website's content in search results.
Once a keyword is entered into a search box, search engines will check for pages within their index that are a closest match; a score will be assigned to these pages based on an algorithm consisting of hundreds of different ranking signals
How does this effect my website and how do I prepare my website for this new google change?
Don’t panic just yet if you feel like your site is not quite ready to be indexed for mobile, there are definitely things you can do to improve your site right away!
The mobile-first index works the same as the current desktop index, but it prioritizes mobile documents. Google’s algorithms will display snippets based on the mobile versions of your primary content and structured data.
Preparing for the mobile-first index:
- Mobile responsive site: Use a responsive design and don’t skimp on content. The very best way to combat not ranking on mobile is to go with a responsive design. Responsive web design is the practice of mixing flexible grids and layouts, images, and CSS media queries to ensure that no matter what device a searcher is using, your website alters to suit the device’s environment; whether it be desktop, mobile, or tablet.
If you have a responsive web site or a dynamic serving site where the primary content and markup is equivalent across mobile and desktop, nothing more on your end is required.
- Unique site configuration: If you have a site configuration where the primary content and markup is different across mobile and desktop, you should consider making some changes to your site. Have the same content on your mobile site as you do on your desktop site.
- No mobile or mobile-friendly website: For those who only have a desktop site, your site will continue to be crawled and ranked. . If your website is relevant, but not necessarily mobile-optimized, you can still show up for your keywords.
Contact us for a free mobile-friendly website - view our responsive design portfolio
A Checklist for the preparation on mobile-first for your website
Below are some tips to get you started that directly correlate to this new announcement from Google:
- Make sure to run a mobile friendly test to make sure your website is optimized for mobile use.
- Make sure that your mobile site speed is exceptional and not delayed. Eventually, Google will completely transition to the mobile-first index, which evaluates your mobile site first rather than your desktop site, which means that your mobile site needs to load fast.
- Make sure to serve structured markup for both the desktop and mobile version.
Sites can verify the equivalence of their structured markup across desktop and mobile by typing the URLs of both versions into the Structured Data Testing Tool and comparing the output.
- If you are a site owner who has only verified their desktop site in Search Console, please add and verify your mobile version.
- Use the robots.txt testing tool to verify that your mobile version is accessible to Googlebot.
This is clearly a huge change in indexing, and even if you have been working on mobile optimization and planning for this kind of change over the past months or years, there are still things your business needs to do to be prepared.