Mobile-First Indexing and SEO
In the last few months, there has been considerable buzz online and in the digital marketing community about Google's recent ranking development - mobile-first indexing.
As one of the latest components in Google's mission to provide the best possible results for users on search pages, this change reflects the continually growing popularity of mobile browsing. While mobile-friendly websites have been used as a ranking factor for quite some time, this update is a clear signal that it's now absolutely crucial to have a mobile optimised website.
What is Mobile-First Indexing?
Mobile-first indexing means that Google will crawl the mobile version of a website first, to determine rankings. This is in contrast to the previous system that used desktop sites as the primary point of reference. With more users browsing on mobile in 2018 than on desktop, the change in priority shows just how important mobile-friendly websites have become on the web.
Google has already begun crawling websites that are following best mobile practices, as it announced in a blog post at the end of March. Website owners will be notified whether their website is being mobile-indexed through Search Console and they will be able to confirm this by checking if Smartphone Googlebot is crawling their website.
Google is Prioritising Mobile-Sites
A mobile-first index means that mobile websites will be used as the initial platform for indexing and ranking by Google. In the first wave of mobile-first indexing, Google has only chosen a select few websites that are ready for the switch.
The update comes after around 18 months of thorough testing and while it is a big announcement, Google hasn't said it will stop considering desktop websites as of yet. The search engine has stated that "if you only have desktop content, you will continue to be represented in our index". This means that there will be times where desktop sites will be chosen to be shown above mobile results - for the time being. However, this update indicates towards a complete mobile-preferred shift happening in the future.
How Websites Should Respond to the Mobile-First Index
If you already have a mobile responsive website, you don't have to worry too much about the update. However, it's always worthwhile to frequently consider how users are interacting with your website on mobile. Think about how your content, calls-to-action and other important features are displayed across all kinds of devices.
Google Tools for Mobile Optimisation
If you're unsure how ready your website is for a mobile-first index, there are a number of online tools that can help you gauge your website's mobile-friendliness. These Google tools allow you to measure mobile page speed and even calculate how much revenue is potentially lost due to a slow loading time. The tools are very simple to use and offer valuable information for online businesses. Check them out here.
Desktop Still Matters
While you'll still be indexed by Google if you only have desktop content on your website, this is a huge sign that mobile optimisation is crucial for everyone. Google first began boosting rankings for mobile pages back in 2015 and usage rates have only increased since then. Without a mobile responsive website, you're missing out on a massive amount of traffic.
Start Optimising Your Website for a Mobile-First Index
If your website isn't mobile-friendly yet and you'd like to change that, The Web Company can help. With our new SEO packages, we'll optimise your website so you can get great rankings on Google. In a mobile-connected world, it's important that your business measures up. Get in contact with us today to find out more.