How to prepare for Google's mobile-first roll-out
This blog was originally written for a digital agency and can be found here.
It looks like the time is finally upon us, Google is set to roll out its mobile-first index this year. What this means is that Google will have a dedicated index just for mobile web pages, and it will be its primary one. This basically means that mobile web pages will be given priority over solely desktop-based ones.
What is the mobile-first index?
Indexing is the process Google undertakes to add web pages to its database so that they show up in search results. The mobile-first index has been designed to respond to the huge shift in Internet browsing from desktops to mobile. In fact, mobile web usage first overtook desktop way back in 2016. 80% of all Internet users now use a smartphone and it accounts for almost 70% of all time spent consuming media and content on the Internet.
It makes sense, therefore, that Google is putting mobile first in the race to give its users the best experience when searching online. In fact, Google’s prioritization of mobile has largely paid off for it so far as 96% of all mobile searches are carried out via the search engine.
What are the implications of the switchover?
If your website isn’t mobile responsive yet, then when the mobile-first index is launched your website could fall way down in the search rankings, or disappear altogether. It’s not yet been announced when the index is expected, but it will be this year.
When the switchover happens, the ranking of your website will largely be determined by the content on your mobile website. If you don’t have one, well, that’s going to be a problem. To be fair, you should have a mobile website as good practice anyway. 57% of consumers have stated that they wouldn’t recommend a business to their peers if the business has a poorly designed or non-existent mobile website. Yikes!
How you can prepare your website
If you already have a mobile website, you still cannot rest on your laurels. If you have a responsive website, then you’re luckily stood in pretty good stead for the mobile-first index. Now, if your mobile site is completely separate from your desktop one, you should make sure that you claim it in your Google Search Console so that you’ll still get accurate data after the index launches.
Once the mobile-first index is rolled out, then content becomes everything. Ensure your users receive a consistent experience across all devices and that as much primary content is delivered to all users. You should also check that your mobile site is accessible. Use this tool to double-check.
You can also check what Google already thinks about your mobile site by using its testing tool here.
Just to err on the safe side, you can also provide structured markup for both your mobile and desktop site by using Google’s structured data testing tool.
The mobile-first index is coming, so make sure your website is prepared. If not, your website may as well disappear from the Internet altogether.
more than happy to help! The mobile-first index is coming, so make sure your website is prepared. If not, your website may as well disappear from the Internet altogether.