Sometimes, it’s hard to believe that there was a world before e-commerce. It can be difficult to remember how products were marketed and sold before the instantly gratifying internet. In this article, we will make sure to analyze all the elements you need to be compliant with Google’s mobile-first indexing.
Today’s World and Mobile Phones
Today, the internet is old news. You can get the internet on your phone, which means anything you need is anywhere you can easily carry your phone.
However, technology has not quite gotten to the point where all the website pages you produce on the internet are displayed the same on every device. To display and interact properly, your site needs to be mobile-friendly.
In fact, Google made the decision in 2018 to use the mobile version of sites for ranking and indexing. This process, known as “Mobile-First Indexing”, means that the Googlebot that scans your pages does so with a smartphone agent.
So what does that mean for you? Read on to determine if your site is ready for Google’s mobile-first indexing.
What Is Google’s Mobile-First Indexing?
In most cases, websites need to be optimized to be viewed on a smartphone versus a laptop or large-screen device. The screen resolution is different, for starters. Navigation of mobile sites tends to be more vertical to complement the scrolling down motion, while desktop sites have more pixels to spread out horizontally.
All the things you click on – tabs, buttons, embedded links, and more – need to stand out enough on a mobile-friendly site to ensure users can actually tap on them so they can navigate quickly around your site. Images, videos, or content that take a long time to load have no place on a mobile-friendly site, either.
Therefore, when Google announced their bot would be crawling and ranking based on mobile-friendly URLs, the implication was clear: make sure your site is mobile-friendly so Google can rank it.
However, the process has been more complicated than one might expect, and apparently, not all sites are subject to mobile-first indexing. Google has noted that websites created after 1, July 2019 will be indexed with mobile-first guidelines; however, there have been some issues in ensuring that all sites are subject to this method of indexing. There have been many discussions about the technical aspects if you’re interested in the deep-dive details.
In layman’s terms, this means that if your site is not already mobile-friendly, the time has come to consider the mobile user experience to ensure you appear on those search engine results pages!
How To Make Sure Your Site Is Ready?
The number one tip Google has shared with the online community is that the desktop and mobile experiences a user has on your site should be the same. The same information should be available to users, regardless of how they reach your site.
However, that might mean making some changes.
Have you ever tried to look up a restaurant’s menu on your phone, only to find that information conspicuously missing? Oftentimes, scenarios like this are the result of a site not being mobile-friendly. The site’s drop-down menu may not be optimized for mobile, or the menu is a PDF document that takes eons to load on a smartphone.
Google has indicated that more information is better when it comes to mobile-first indexing. This makes sense for seasoned SEO experts – the more information your site provides, the more valuable it is to users. Additionally, keeping your mobile site’s structure as identical as possible to your desktop site, including content details like page names, meta tags, and headings, will ensure that users can navigate quickly and efficiently regardless of what device they’re using.
At the end of the day, we all want our websites to be helpful to potential customers, because that means they’ll keep coming back!
Best Practices for Google’s Mobile-First Indexing
Take a look at your site as it stands today. Are you using a mobile-friendly template or theme? Check your web design to ensure your site is optimized for mobile users.
What about your content? Do you have a lot of large, low-resolution images or long videos? That might not be ideal for mobile users. Don’t get rid of them altogether, but make sure users can navigate your site and obtain basic information without them.
You also need to be cautious of ads and pop-ups. While these definitely have a purpose on your site, they can create a less-than-enjoyable user experience on a mobile device. Google bots will take heed of this with mobile-first indexing and rank your site lower as a result.
You’ll also want to make sure that your mobile site can handle an increase in crawl rate, with no fragment URLs. The error page status will need to be the same for desktop and mobile sites, as well. If your site requires lazy-loading – content that users have to tap or swipe to load – make sure Google can see it.
As a business owner, some of this might sound complicated or unfamiliar. That’s ok– most of this crosses into web developer territory and may not be something you work with on a regular basis.
Obtaining Help from a Contractor
Should you choose to hire a web development contractor to help ensure your site is ready for Google’s mobile-first indexing, take a moment to discuss with them what changes they foresee, and how they plan to adhere to these best practices.
Try not to change too many things at once, as your site likely has an audience who already appreciates it as it is.
Google’s mobile-first indexing procedure can be a great thing for SEO, as it ensures that ranking and indexing will be based on a full pool of users, rather than only those who have access to a desktop. However, you do want to be sure your site is mobile-friendly now. Your users will thank you today, and your search engine ranking will thank you later!