2018 has been a landmark year for changes in how people search for things online. If you want to know what Google’s “Mobile-First Indexing” means for your SEO strategy, read on.
Google Is Putting Mobile First
Over the past few years, the way people access online information has changed. Mobile gained quickly on desktop use and surpassed it in 2016. That means that more people are accessing the web on their phones and tablets than desktop computers. In response, Google has switched to mobile-first indexing. This means that your mobile site will become the primary crawled and indexed face of your digital brand, rather than your desktop site.
Due to this update, the way Google is indexing and ranking your content will change drastically. It also means that ignoring your mobile site and mobile SEO strategy is no longer possible. When it comes to building a digital brand, you need a stellar mobile site and SEO strategy that centers it.
Mobile-First Indexing and the Future of Search
Google announced back in March 2018 that it is migrating certain sites to “mobile-first indexing,” a brand new form of indexing. It involves evaluating each individual URL on the terms of its readiness for mobile-first indexing. The sites deemed ready were transitioned to this form of crawling, indexing, and ranking change.
Initially, Google considered and served the desktop version of sites. Sites were judged on their trustworthiness and usefulness. Those that met Google’s criteria best were served first in their search engine results pages. This major change means that mobile sites will start to come first.
Why You Need a Mobile and Desktop Site
It is important to understand that this does not mean that you no longer need a desktop version of your site. This also does not mean that desktop websites are suddenly obsolete. It is “mobile-first indexing” and not “mobile-only indexing.” If you do not have a mobile site, your site will still appear in Google searches, but the odds will likely become increasingly stacked against you as more and more sites become increasingly responsive and mobile-friendly.
In the future, when users make search queries, it is possible that mobile-friendly sites will be the only ones suggested to them by Google.
How Will Mobile-First Indexing Affect Sites and Rankings?
This update means that website owners have a brand new standard for how the largest search engine in the world will determine their rankings. Your mobile site will now be considered the “primary version” of your site. This reflects the massive shift in how Google will gauge, view, and present content. It is an attempt to put user behavior first.
Your desktop site will still be indexed if you do not have a mobile site or your mobile site does not reflect your SEO strategy. However, your rank will likely fall as mobile-friendly sites rise, meaning that fewer and fewer people will see your content when they make search queries. In order for your site to stay relevant and high ranking, you need a mobile-friendly site with an effective SEO strategy yesterday.
Is Your Website Ready for Mobile-First Indexing?
In order to compete on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), your site will have to meet or exceed Google’s standards. First, you have to understand the different types of mobile sites you can have:
- Responsive: Your mobile and desktop sites are identical
- Adaptive: Your site shows users different content based on the device they are viewing it on
- Separate: You can opt to have a mobile site at a different URL wholly separate from your desktop site
- Other sites: Accelerated mobile page (AMP) versions of your site, or HTML with specialized script components
If you have a responsive or adaptive site, your site is more ready for this change as your sites likely already match very closely. Those with separate sites or a significantly slimmed down mobile version are less prepared. If your primary mobile site has minimal content, it may load faster, but it will also index lower. Longer content often has improved SEO due to containing more information, internal, and external links.
SEE ALSO: SEO Link Building: Developing Your Digital Brand Through Quality Links
How to Optimize Your Mobile Site
Take these steps to improve your mobile site. Make sure that your digital brand is not left behind in the mobile-first revolution.
- Verify your site in Search Console
- Think about how people are viewing your content and update your mobile site accordingly
- Track your traffic and make adjustments
- Make improving your page speed a priority. Take a look at their Developers PageSpeed tool.
- If you don’t have a mobile version already, it’s time to get one!
- Make sure you are following Google’s best practices for mobile-first indexing.
SEE ALSO: Top SEO Best Practices for Digital Branding
Should Those Without A Mobile SEO Strategy Panic?
In July 2017, Google said that mobile sites will most likely not completely dominate SEPRs for a few years. Lacking a strong mobile site or one at all will not totally destroy your digital brand in a matter of days, but it is only a matter of time before you start to feel the effects. Google is slowly rolling out these changes. However, they have not given an exact timeline for when mobile-first indexing will be fully implemented.
However, wouldn’t you rather your digital brand be ahead of the curve than trailing behind? Don’t wait to improve or create your mobile site until your desktop site’s traffic starts majorly flagging. These changes are already affecting us, which is why it is key that you make your mobile site and optimizing your SEO strategy your first concern.
SEE ALSO: On-Page SEO Optimization
Whether you have a lackluster one or don’t have one at all, that won’t cut it in the world of mobile-first indexing.
Mobile-First Indexing is Here, Ready or Not
Google is making major changes to the way it gauges the trustworthiness and usefulness of sites. While it used to put desktop sites first, it is making a big change to put mobile sites first. This is an effort on their part to reflect user behavior. Mobile use is only growing stronger and stronger and has eclipsed desktop use for the first time. This emphasis on mobile use means that SEO is more important than ever.
SEE ALSO: SEO for Small Business
Mobile-first indexing means that just having a desktop site is no longer enough. Many companies used to focus all of their energy on their desktop site. They would put far less effort into their mobile site, if they had one at all. This will not cut it in the world of mobile-first indexing. You will have to update your SEO strategy and possibly even your mobile site itself. If you haven’t already, it is time to give your mobile site some love if you want your digital brand and website to be searchable and competitive.
How soon do you think mobile sites will truly come first? Comment below…