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There has been a lot of noise about Google’s new mobile-first indexing algorithm. We’re in a mobile era, it’s been over 5 years since the number of mobile searches took over desktop searches. It only makes sense for Google to index and rank content based on mobile pages since more people will access it. The term mobile-first indexing means that Google is shifting how it indexes and ranks content from the desktop to the mobile version of sites. But there’s a lot of confusion amongst the marketers around what this means for an average business owner. Do they have to change anything? Everything? If their site is optimized for mobiles, will that be good enough?
Google has been giving hints about mobile-first indexing since 2016 when it first announced the shift. Since then, gradually it has been rolling it out to more and more sites. The initial mobile-first indexing rollout date was September 2020 but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it got launched in March 2021. Now Google’s index will be mobile-only.
Mobile-first indexing is a concept launched by Google, where it will be predominantly use the mobile version of your site’s content for indexing and ranking. Earlier, the index primarily used the desktop version of a page’s content when evaluating the relevance of a page to a user’s query.
Google goes on to say this switch is made because more and more searches come from mobiles and to offer those users a better experience, Google decided that it was time to prioritize mobile results. It is important to remember that the mobile-first index is not separate, Google has just one index from which it serves the data.
Just because Google is switching to a new indexing pattern doesn’t have to scare you. If your site is performing well and has a good ranking you have nothing to lose. You will get a note in your Google Search Console if Google indexes a mobile version of your site. Google can then decide how you rate on both the desktop and on the smartphone by the content that you have on your mobile version. Sounds big, isn’t it but if you have a WordPress site you will have an advantage over others, as WordPress has a responsive design. This means that both mobile and desktop display the same content. You’ll have nothing to worry about in this case.
In case you have different websites for mobile and desktop, with comparatively less content on your mobile site then you have something to worry about. You should have similar offerings on both the platforms, including your structured data and any metadata like titles, descriptions, and robots meta tags.
Having a mobile site is not necessary to be able to be in the mobile-first index. But if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, it will be harder to rank. So, work must be done for anyone who still does not have a mobile-friendly site yet.
So, you need to check out Google’s mobile-friendliness test and check if your site is mobile-friendly or not. This is a bare minimum requirement. If your site fails this test, your mobile edition is inadequate.
Your mobile website needs a different UX than a desktop version to attract your audience. Mobile screen is tiny, and you might want to discard a lot of content on mobile due to space limitations, but that wouldn’t be a good practice.
Don’t lose heart, we can improve the user experience for the mobile users by following some of the recommended practices. For instance, Google explained the use of hamburger menus are perfectly fine. They help a mobile user to navigate through a site easily. Putting content behind a tab to make the mobile experience better is also fine.
Reading from a desktop is difficult. Reading from a smartphone device is even more difficult than reading from a large screen. You’ll need a mobile-friendly copy to attract a mobile audience. This entails using short sentences and paragraphs that are compact. You must ensure that the font on your mobile site is big and simple and that you use ample whitespace.
You need to know if your audience is entirely mobile. Do they come from mobile search results on your page? Or do you receive maximum traffic through the desktop SERPs? Make sure to check this in your Google Analytics. If your search traffic is mainly from mobile search results, ensure that you optimize your mobile snippets in the Google preview.
Hopefully, you are already on mobile-first indexing and have nothing to worry about. However, if not, don’t panic. You can take Shergroup’s help in not only developing a mobile version for your site but also optimizing it for Google’s mobile-first indexing. Once your mobile site is up, we will make your site responsive and make sure your content and all other features are similar on both desktop and mobile versions. Hence, we can eliminate the chances of any possible consequences for your ranking. In short, we will make sure your website has a kick-ass mobile experience to get started on. This will make a difference in your rankings shortly. Mobile is the new normal and it’s here to stay, so make sure your site is ready.
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Last updated | 19 July 2023
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