Google has been talking about their mobile-first indexing over the past year. There has been a lot of buzz around it as it is easily Google’s current most significant change. They have set out to make the world more mobile-friendly and reflect their technologies upon user behavior trends. It means that Google will soon look at the web from a completely mobile-first perspective. It will still rank desktop sites with justice, but their rankings will seriously drop if they don’t have a mobile version. In fact, Google will first index its mobile version, hence the mobile-first indexing.
This new indexing will change how Google thinks about your website and what kind of content it prioritizes. Keep in mind that up until now the desktop version of a site was considered the main version, but that won’t be the case from now on. The desktop version will turn into the “alternate” version of your site and your mobile version will take the lead. It has already been put in place since April, so you better get your website on track if you haven’t already.
There is also plenty of confusion to what this means to the average business owner and just about anyone who has a website. Do you have to change something or everything? How will all this affect you?
Google will definitely roll sites in to mobile-first indexing sooner than we thought. The only question: is your site prepared? It’s no surprise that websites that don’t have a mobile version will lose out to the competition. We have yet to know what will exactly happen if a website doesn’t have a mobile version, but I don’t think anyone wants to find out.
Which is why in this article, I’ll tell you all you need to know about Google’s mobile-first indexing, how you have to prepare for it and how you can get a better rank. So, without further ado, let’s get down to it!
Main Goals of Mobile-First Indexing
With more people using smartphones and accessing the internet every year it’s no wonder. More than 55 percent of internet users are browsing from mobile. So it’s not a surprise that Google will prioritize the great majority of internet users. Yet a lot of sites still focus on a desktop experience and treat the mobile version of websites as secondary. Google wants to completely change this and put mobile websites in the focus of every website.
Adapting to The Mobile-First Indexing Update
There’s no need to worry. If your website has a mobile version and contains the same quality and quantity of content as the desktop version, you might not need to make any changes. In that case, your mobile version will become your primary website and the information from your desktop version can be used to rank your website better.
But if your mobile version’s design isn’t identical to that of your desktop site, you might face some ranking problems down the road. To counter this, choose a responsive design and use that. Having one URL that adapts to every device is the best way to guarantee that you get an audience through search engines.
But if you have a separate mobile site and you don’t want to rebuild your whole design, there are still plenty of things you can do.
- Metadata: Make sure that the titles and descriptions are same on both versions of your pages. Google’s official guideline states that they have to be “equivalent” not “identical”, so it might be better if you optimize your mobile site for a shorter character count.
- Content: Your mobile version should have all the high-quality and valuable content that you have on the desktop version of your site as well. This can be text, images or video. Just make sure that the formats you use on the mobile version will be indexed and crawled by the Google bot.
- Use Structured Data: You should have the same structured data markup that you have both on the mobile version and the desktop version of your website. The URLs you show within the structured data on the mobile pages has be the mobile version of said URL. Don’t add any structured date if it doesn’t have anything to do with the purpose or content of your page.
- Media and XML Sitemaps: Make sure that every link on your website is accessible from your site’s mobile version. This also applies to your robots.txt file and all the on-page meta-robot tags you have on your site.
- Increased Server Capacity: Google’s crawlers might have an increased crawl rate during the initial periods of the update. So make sure that your servers can handle it.
- Internal links: Your site should be easy to navigate on mobile devices. If your internal links aren’t the same as they are on your site’s desktop version, it could negatively affect your ranking.
The mobile-first indexing update seeks to take the internet forward according the latest demands. Since more than half of online traffic comes from mobile devices, it’s already evident that this change would have to be made sooner or later.
This doesn’t mean that desktop sites are no longer relevant to your ranking. It only means that Google will use the mobile version of your site as a primary means of ranking it. The desktop version will still have value, but you’ll definitely have to have a mobile site or a fully responsive design up and running.
Also, content still has great value and has to be of high-quality. The way you can market your website is basically the same and you still have to reach out to a specific target audience and meet their needs. If you have already invested enough into making your website mobile-responsive, than you don’t have anything to worry about. Let Google’s mobile-first indexing come and drive more traffic to your site!
I hope that you have enjoyed reading through this article and that we helped you learn something new today!
Updated: November 27, 2018