Ready or not, here it comes! Mobile-first indexing, that is. In 2016, the tech giant announced its algorithms would start using the mobile version of a website for indexing and ranking on its search engine. For the better part of the last year and half, Google has been testing and experimenting with what exactly this would look like, and in March, they announced that they're officially rolling out mobile-first indexing. Now that we're a few months into the rollout, let’s break down the basics, and what this SEO shift means for you. What Exactly Is Mobile-First Indexing?
Indexing is the process Google uses to track and store a website’s content and information. To gather this information, Google reads a page for its content (this process is known as crawling), and then using the information it gathered from its crawl, Google indexes that page so it can be found by the search engine’s users. According to Google, mobile-first indexing means Google will predominantly use the mobile version of your website’s content for indexing. Prior to this, Google only used the desktop version of a website. While Google has moved to mobile-first indexing, it’s not mobile-only! That is, desktop versions can still be indexed, but, given the growth of mobile searches, it is time to consider moving from desktop-only and embrace mobile consumers. Why Google Is Making This Shift?
At this point, you might be wondering why Google is creating such a fuss around its crawling, indexing, and ranking practices. Well, with consumer behaviors changing, 58 percent of Google searches now take place on a mobile device. With mobile-first indexing, Google is hoping to better provide high-quality and relevant information to its users, improving the overall user experience. What This Means For You
If you have started prioritizing your mobile site (think: optimizing your content for mobile and/or using responsive web design) you will likely see little change to your rankings. If you haven’t, it’s time for a wake up call. Either way though, this may be a great time to run a website audit. Below, you’ll find some helpful steps to take to understand where you stand.
Test your website for its mobile-friendliness
Join the mobile-first bandwagon, and ensure your site scales properly for your mobile visitors. This concept is known as responsive design, and ensures your site looks and works well on any screen size. When your site performs as it should, your visitor has a better overall experience.
Gather Page Speed Insights
Did you know if a website takes more than 3 second to load, 40 percent of visitors will leave? If that wasn’t a big enough reason to increase your site’s speed, Google has announced slow-loading content (on desktop and mobile) will be downranked starting in July. This means page load time will become a critical component to your mobile SEO moving forward.
Disable Popup Ads
Google hates those annoying popup ads just as much as you do. They often cause just another step for the website visitor to jump through to get to the content they want. That’s why, Google has taken steps to downrank pages with interstitials popups.
Let Google Access Your Site Easily
Let’s face it. If Google can’t crawl your site, it can’t determine how mobile-friendly it is, and your rankings may be affected. To test whether Google can understand your content, use their Search Console.
With Google’s rollout of mobile-first indexing, you can no longer afford to ignore your mobile customers. Mobile-first indexing may mean significant changes to your mobile SEO strategies, and hopefully these steps will help you get started moving in the right direction. As mobile SEO continues to evolve, stay up-to-date with us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook for the latest news and what it means to you.