Mobile First Indexing: How to Prepare Your Business

Posted on by Chad Crowe

Adobe Maturity Mobile Survey

Since smartphones have changed consumer habits, Google has announced that they are going to make the switch to mobile first indexing this year.

It wasn’t that long ago that if you wanted to reach potential new customers online, your marketing campaign revolved around getting in front of people using their desktop computers. Today, more than 50% of search engine queries happen on mobile devices.

Indexing happens when Google sends its robots to crawl your site. They are looking for content that matches what consumers are searching for when search something. What the robots find determines how your site will rank on search engine results pages. Google’s move to mobile first indexing means the robots will look at your mobile website first before crawling the desktop version.

Depending on how things are with the desktop and mobile versions of your site, your business could see a significant impact when this change takes place. Let’s take a look at the three scenarios your business is most likely to be in and what impact mobile-first might have on your business.

  1. You have a responsive site. If you have a responsive site with the same content on mobile and the desktop versions, you shouldn’t have to worry making any changes.
  2. Your website is different on mobile and desktop. If the main content on your website is different on the desktop version and the mobile version, you should consider making changes to your site.
  3. You don’t have a mobile site. If you do not have a mobile site at all, Google will only crawl the desktop version. But keep in mind that not having a mobile website may cause your site to rank lower on search engine results pages.

Common Questions About Mobile-First Indexing

Is mobile-first indexing adding mobile pages to a separate mobile index?
Google is not creating another index and won’t have two separate indexes. Mobile first indexing changes how content is added to the current index.

Why is Google moving to a mobile first index?
With the majority of people using mobile devices for searches, Google has found that the current index can create problems when the desktop version has more or different content than the mobile version. This is because their algorithms are evaluating the desktop version­–not the actual page that is seen by a person conducting a search via mobile device. Google wants to provide the best results and highest quality websites to its users and transitioning the index from desktop to mobile-first will help with this.

What if my mobile version has less content than my desktop version?
If the mobile version has less content than the desktop version, Google will see this and rank your website accordingly. For this reason, Google recommends you the same content on your desktop version and your mobile site.

Getting Your Business Ready for Mobile First Indexing

Look at the Data. Take a look at the analytics. How much of the traffic to your site is currently coming from mobile devices versus desktop? If the trend looks like traffic from mobile is increasing then you’ll want to make sure your website is ready for mobile first indexing.

Make mobile a priority. Google won’t necessarily penalize your site for having a high-quality desktop version and a thin mobile site. If you have a separate mobile site, make sure that it has as much relevant content as the desktop version. Make sure your mobile version has all text, images, and videos that are available on your desktop. Include the same structured data markup on both versions. If your site is fully responsive, make sure the design, navigation and page speed are optimal.

Make the move to a responsive site. With more and more people looking at your site on smartphones, it’s important to make sure that the site renders correctly and that pages load fast. People will quickly leave a site that doesn’t look right on mobile. A mobile friendly site is also important for Google’s robots. They should be able to crawl all the words, images, and videos on the site.

Google has not issued a specific timeline for complete mobile first indexing because they want to give businesses and developers time to get their mobile sites ready. However, Google has already started testing mobile first indexing with a small number of websites. There’s no need to be nervous but now is the time to be proactive. This will ensure that your business maintain visibility in search engine rankings during this transition to a mobile-first world.

Chad Crowe manages Techwood Consulting’s implementation and account management operations.

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