Google Mobile First Indexing – 5 things you must do for Google Mobile First Indexing – Why is Google changing their website indexing to mobile?
Update 3/26/18 – Google announced today that after many months (more like over a year) of testing, they are rolling it out officially.
5 Things You Must Do For Google Mobile First Indexing
Google’s desktop indexing has been around since the very beginning of Google Search. Why is it now abandoned and pushed to backup status? What is Google mobile first indexing?
The fact that mobile searches have topped the number of searches from desktop and laptop devices in the US and around the world is nothing new. Google has been trying to make business owners pay more attention to users performing Google searches on their phones ever since they announced the arrival of ‘Mobilegeddon’ in February 2015, which now favors mobile-friendly websites in their displayed search rankings on mobile devices.
A Timeline of Major Google Mobile Announcements
02/26/2015 – Google announces change to mobile search results (Mobilegeddon)
04/21//2015 – Google rolls out Mobilegeddon penalizing desktop websites on mobile searches only
05/05/2015 – Google announces more searches on mobile than on desktop in many countries including US
09/01/2015 – Google warns to not use mobile interstitials (for more on interstitials)
10/07/2015 – Google launches the AMP Project
11/04/2016 – Google Mobile first indexing announced
01/10//2017 – Google to start penalizing mobile sites using interstitials
Many website owners, who faithfully “do what Google tells them to do”, took the hint and invested in developing mobile-optimized and mobile-friendly responsive websites, while others created a second “mobile-only website” which would be served to users who were visiting on mobile device through a redirect from the desktop site. The redirect solution often led to a less than ideal user experience, as the content would often be different that on the original desktop site. Additionally, while Google crawled the desktop site, mobile users would click based on the snippits in the search result, only to not find the information Google just told them was there.
And this is where the problem lies that Google is now addressing through their Google Mobile First Indexing.
Google Mobile First Indexing
In order to understand in layman’s terms, since the dawn of time, Google used a desktop bot to crawl your website. Separately, when mobile devices appeared, Google added a mobile bot to gauge mobile response signals for mobile search listings. If that agent saw your site is “mobile-friendly” you got a boost, but only on those mobile searches. If a searcher saw your desktop site listed in mobile returns, there was a red warning that “This website may not work on your device”.
If that same search was performed on a laptop, a user would not see that warning and it was business as usual.
The Google announcement in early November regarding the gradual roll-out of the Google Mobile First Indexing changes this by only using a mobile bot crawler for all search results, no matter if it’s a desktop site, or a separate mobile only site, or a mobile friendly responsive website. In other words, over the years, we have progressed from one google web crawler (desktop) to two (desktop and mobile) to one (mobile). The bottom line is this means that the main user agent crawling websites will be mobile and the content that is accessible to the Google mobile first indexing crawler will be the content that will be considered for all search rankings, regardless of the device used.
What do all these changes mean for your website and your web presence? If you are utilizing a mobile-friendly responsive website, you have no major worries. If you have a desktop only site, this is Googles final shot across the bow. But even if your website is mobile-optimized, you may need to do more.
Here are 5 things you should do immediately, to prepare for the roll-out of Google Mobile First Indexing:
1. Stop redirecting based on the device
Sometimes having a separate mobile website is a legitimate strategy for a handful of reasons, for example if your mobile website visitor persona is different to that of a desktop/ laptop user.. However in combination with navigating to a second ‘mobile’ site through internal redirects based on the viewing device, it can cause a series of problems. To start with, it’s much harder for the mobile first googlebot to discover the desktop version of the site.
The better way to do this is to use alternate tags and canonicals to map out the desktop and mobile versions, as Google is maintaining that “we’ll continue to use these links as guides to serve the appropriate results to a user searching on desktop or mobile.”
2. Stop using different website content on desktop vs. your mobile
It should be an absolute no-brainer that your desktop and mobile version of the same page should show the user the very same content. It can be sized differently. or use smaller pixel count on images, or lack some visual effects, but it’s important that all the text content is the same. Using redirects for mobile users to show them different content from what the desktop users would see is one of the reasons why Google introduced their Google mobile first index in the first place.
3. Consider one website for everyone, regardless of device
Responsive websites that adapt to any screen size have come a long way in a few short years. There are many valid reasons to use a mobile-friendly responsive design, the least of which is that every user gets the same experience, the same branding and the same content, regardless of the device used. Additionally, if all you have is a desktop only website that is not “mobile-friendly” (per Google -Test HERE), consider this the final warning from Google. Because soon, Google will be indexing all websites from the perspective of a mobile user for search results across all devices. Since Google is ditching desktop searches, do you think this might be a good time to ditch your desktop only website? Ya Think?
4. Pay attention to local SEO
Mobile searches naturally have local intent more often than not – we search for restaurants, pubs, or businesses around us in our current location. Whether you are a local business or have locally-relevant content, it’s extremely important that you spend time making sure your page is optimized for local SEO.
5. Stop ignoring to your website load speed
Website load speed can determine your search rankings for both desktop as well as mobile searches s it’s a strong ranking factor. But the loading speed of a page is a much more sensitive issue on mobile phones as the speed of connection usually tends to be slower, as 4G doesn’t quite measure up to IP speed at home. Regularly checking how long it takes to load and render your website on mobile will go a long way in helping.