Approximately 60% of Google searches originate from a mobile device (SearchEngineLand). That seems legit. We do most of our things on our phone than on any other device. Be it to fetch a quick information or to know the time of another time zone; mobile is a user’s best search friend.
Google’s mobile-first index is all about giving a mobile friendly website a heads up compared to their counterparts. Soon, Google will start ranking its websites based on the mobile version of the website content. This is the next in line improvisation from Google to make search results accurate and user-centric.
Earlier it had started ranking websites based on security provisions, so if you are using a domain validation SSL certificate, you will get same ranking benefits in search engine for using HTTPS security on your website.
Read on to know more about Google’s mobile-first index.
Why is This Happening?
Google found out early in 2016 that it needs to tweak its crawling method to factor in the growing momentum of mobile devices. Until now, Google was crawling and indexing pages from a desktop user’s point of view. Now that the scale has tipped in favor of mobile users, Google has decided to crawl the mobile version of websites as their primary search engine index.
The new mobile-first indexing is aimed towards delivering better search results for mobile users who constitute a major portion of today’s users.
Will Google’s Mobile-First Indexing Hurt Desktop Users?
Google’s mobile-first indexing will not affect search engine rankings for desktop users significantly. However, there will be minor changes as the results will now be more accurate considering the user friendliness of mobile users.
Thus, websites without responsive design or mobile-friendliness might get slightly affected. The results will be processed as always. The desktop content will be indexed and considered for search engine ranking.
What If You Don’t Have a Mobile Website?
Google has confirmed that it will continue to give your desktop website the same amount of weightage even if it is accessed through its mobile agent interface. If the mobile version lacks in good content or has limited content compared to the desktop counterpart, then you might probably want to make the mobile site as good as your desktop site, content-wise.
The links in the mobile website must also be made to look similar so that Google can easily index it similarly it indexes desktop websites. Google suggests using the Mobile Friendly Test Tool to check how friendly your mobile website it to the Googlebot.
Mobile Website Speed Matters
As you already know, page loading speed is a critical page ranking signal. Currently, Google has a speed measurement tool to decide how fast a desktop website is, but a mobile counterpart is missing. But that won’t be for too long.
Google’s Gary Illyes has explained at the SMX West Conference that it would come up with an exclusive tool that will determine the loading speed of mobile web pages for accurate speed based page ranking.
However, in the long-run Google will be focussing on merging both the indexing methods to avoid any confusion or search engine ranking disparity. Hence, to begin with, there will be two indexes: one for mobile and another for the desktop. End users will not be to identify what index they are being served results from.
Ranking Signals and Their Origin
How to Tweak Your SEO Strategy to Match Google’s Mobile-First Strategy
Time and yet again Google has confirmed that the mobile-first strategy will not impact search engine results significantly. However, any sensible website owner might want to revisit their website SEO friendliness and tweak it as needed to make it perfect for the changes that Google is planning.
Here are some best practice recommendations that will help you achieve that:
Be Mobile Responsive
If your website is not mobile responsive, make it responsive right away. Ensure that the mobile version of your website has the flexes to fit snugly into the mobile screen of users without any trouble. That will help win the first ranking war of Google’s mobile-first index.
Treat Mobile & Desktop as Equal
If you have both desktop and mobile versions of your website, ensure that the content in both the locations is similar or of the same size. If the mobile version has less content, Google will treat it as the primary version and display it to users. This can potentially harm your branding and marketing strategy if the mobile content does not drive the message straight.
Venture Into a Mobile App
Mobile apps will open a dedicated channel to reach customers and people who would be interested in your brand. Moreover, there are chances that Google might start favoring mobile app in searches soon. By the time it happens, you would already be ahead of the herd.
Other things that matter
Mobile websites have fewer links compared to desktop versions. This means SEO backlink building for the mobile versions will be quite a challenge. It might even let the competition gain the upper hand. Not to miss mentioning that Google’s search rank signals include links, content quality, etc.
The truth about mobile-first indexing is that it is not clearly out. Google is still working on the final output which will have complete features. Until then, you have a time window to prep your desktop version to become one that mobile friendly.
From Here to Where
Google is one company that constantly revisits its processes. The mobile-first index strategy is also part of the search engine’s mission to make its search results perfect and accurate for end users.
It will prove to be of great benefit for users as well as websites who want to reach out to users who are using mobile devices for search, browsing and everything else. Once common place, it will improve the overall quality of search engine results.
The good news is that it will not impact your search engine ranking adversely. At least that’s what Google confirms. So no reliable result will be visible in the rankings. So there is no solid result that will be visible in the rankings. Be assured that your search engine rankings will remain constant if no slip down a step or two down. Even if that happens, you can quickly rectify it by setting right your mobile website structure.