Finally, Google announced mobile-first indexing, which would be applied to all websites by September 2020. In fact, it’s already been 4 years since the early stage of experimenting and implementing mobile-first indexing for Google search.
Why does Google search emphasize so much on mobile?
This is because according to Google, 70% of search are performed on a smartphone. The era of working on everything on a desktop is over as most internet users now prefer to search using their smartphone.
While Google is still crawling and indexing the desktop version of your website, in the future, priority will be given to the mobile version of your website.
What is Mobile-First Indexing?
Mobile-first indexing means Google will predominantly use the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking. This means the mobile version of your website will be the primary reference for Google for your SEO performance.
If the mobile version of your website is still not mobile-friendly, it’s a MUST to revamp your website now in order to have an advantage in Google search results.
You might want to ask yourself this question: What would you do when you land on a non-mobile-friendly website using your smartphone (the text is so tiny, the layout is all messy etc)? You would just leave, wouldn’t you?
A quick check to find out if your website is mobile-friendly
Simply visit https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly and insert your website to verify.
The test result should be something like: Page is mobile-friendly.
One of the key elements of a mobile-friendly website is responsiveness. A responsive website fits across all devices (desktop, mobile, tablet) with the same code that adjusts to the screen size.
Why does your website need a responsive design?
Here is a list of recommendation from Google:
- Makes it easier for users to share and link to your content with a single URL.
- Helps Google’s algorithms accurately assign indexing properties to the page rather than needing to signal the existence of corresponding desktop/mobile pages.
- Requires less engineering time to maintain multiple pages for the same content.
- Reduces the possibility of common mistakes that affect mobile sites.
- Requires no redirection for users to have a device-optimized view, which reduces load time. Also, user agent-based redirection is error-prone and can degrade your site’s user experience.
- Saves resources when Googlebot crawls your site. For responsive web design pages, a single Googlebot user agent only needs to crawl your page once, rather than crawling multiple times with different Googlebot user agents to retrieve all versions of the content. This improvement in crawling efficiency can indirectly help Google index more of your site’s content and keep it appropriately fresh.
Checklist: Mobile-First Indexing Best Practices
While you can always check out the official guide here Google Search documentation guide about mobile-first, here are the highlights you should focus on:
- Make sure that Googlebot can access and render your content
- Make sure that content is the same on desktop and mobile
- Check your structured data (Learn why this will help SEO)
- Put the same metadata on both versions of your site
- Check visual content
Check and fix Mobile Usability error using Google Search Console
In order to have an error-free mobile site, the report from Google Search Console is your best friend that tells you the error, such as text too small to read, clickable elements too close together or content wider than screen.
You can easily spot all Mobile Usability errors under the Enhancement sidebar menu on the right.
If you don’t have a strong background on website design or development, I would recommend passing the task to a website design agency, vendor or webmaster. Some are easy to fix but certain types of errors might take longer time.
My website is already mobile-friendly, so what’s next?
Put more effort into enhancing the mobile version of your website. Improve website user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) to retain your website visitors.
This means the design, layout and content should be optimized for mobile users.
If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, your potential customers might not be able to reach you when they search on Google.