With the official announcement that Google is switching to mobile-first indexing, some small businesses might find themselves calling for help. SEO; being the all-important topic to consider whenever placing your brand on the internet, takes a major role in this message. What steps does your company need to take in order to overcome this update?
It’s actually here!
It’s been a highly debated and forecasted topic since the release of Google’s Penguin 4.0 update and their Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project. Finally, it was announced at this past month’s Pubcon Las Vegas that Google is now officially switching to mobile-first indexing.
The webmaster trends analyst at Google, Gray Illyes was the bearer of (maybe not-so) bad news, when he stated that Google would roll out a separate mobile index within the next couple of months. With the aforementioned service updates and the fact that there are more Google searches that take place with people using their smart phone or tablet devices than computers, this update was anything but surprising. For those that are not as keen in the area of search indexing, Pubcon explains the significance of it in their news article:
“History, Google has had a desktop index. That means they are crawling the desktop site, determining the relationship to the mobile site, and then they rank the mobile version of your pages based on the desktop version/desktop signals… Nowadays, since 85% of their (Google’s) results are mobile-friendly already and more than half of the search queries are from mobile devices, it makes sense to switch over the desktop index to a mobile index.”
Yes, this is all very nice and informative, but what does this mean for Mobile SEO and the future of web development?
Why Oh Why?
Cheer up! Just remember this one statement: The trend is your friend.
If you’re the type of company that remains relevant and up to date with tech movements, you already know that Google loves (and I mean loves) to keep their software in line with current market directions. The trend we are seeing now is clearly this evolution of on the go cellular usage.
Image Source: www.aumcore.com
As beautifully put in this blog post;
“The internet is no longer parameterized by this huge desktop that sits on a desk in our living room and office but rather, it’s a way of life – something we’re all connected to during most points of our day.”
Due to this style of thinking, Google considerably favors mobile-friendly websites over sites that inhibit a consumer’s mobile user experience (UX). The issue with indexing a website purely off its desktop page is that Google’s not evaluating the actual site that would inevitably be viewed by someone searching off their smartphone. This is why this mobile first-index change has decisively been released. They will continue to generously rank pages that can easily be viewed on smartphones or tablets; and consequently, the search engine crawlers/algorithms Google has in place will condemn your brand’s website if it doesn’t work well on a cellular/ tablet device. All Google really wants to do, is to build a search experience enjoyable for both smartphone and desktop users. This creates the question:
What actions does your business need to take in order to fight Google’s mobile-first indexing?
How you can be prepared for Google’s mobile first indexing
This terribly important shift in the search engine’s indexing will, unfortunately, leave many websites out in no man’s land. Luckily, Google offers some recommendations on their official announcement page to make sure your brand doesn’t suffer:
- If you have a responsive site where the content is the same across both desktop and mobile, you are in great condition and don’t need to worry about changing anything.
- If the above isn’t your case, you should consider to serve structured markup for both your brand’s desktop and mobile versions.
- Verify your mobile site ownership on Google.
- If you still only have a desktop site, Google will continue to index your desktop like normal, even if they are utilizing a mobile user agent to scope out your site.
- Only launch your mobile site when you are sure it is ready.
In a nutshell, the only pages that will be affected are the ones that have a mobile version, which doesn’t have the same content as its desktop counterpart. Reconsider how your desktop pages are constructed. Let’s say for example your desktop homepage has some content that’s missing on the smartphone version. Maybe this is an opportunity to rework how you display items on your desktop page so that it molds into an architecturally sound cellular site. Keep in mind that a good user experience goes a long way, especially now in the eyes of Google.
Traditionally speaking, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has and always will be based on how well your website looks in the eyes of search engines. Strategic keyword density, backlink building, content creation, etc. achieve this. With the entire world going cellular, this approach slightly changes. Now web developers have to pay even more attention to how well a website looks in the hands of a user. Things to ask yourself now are:
- How well formatted is my website?
- Are the pages easily navigable?
- How fast can my mobile site load?
- Is my site responsive? Is the content easily searchable and usable? Are there unplayable videos within the structure of my web?
The biggest concept to understand from this update is that if you haven’t been keeping up with your common SEO practices, you need to start now. Just remember to think mobile-first. Reevaluate your business goals, so that they align with the notion that mobility is key in our tech-savvy day in age.
With a good content strategy, your small business can achieve exactly what this software change is promoting; a superior and exciting web browsing experience through Google’s search engine.