The rise of mobile continues! Google has been slowly moving toward a mobile-first index for quite some time and they officially announced it on November 4th, 2016. It’s currently being tested and it is anticipated to fully roll-out in the next couple of months.

What exactly does Google’s mobile-first indexing mean?

In short, Google will crawl and index the mobile version of your site as its primary source for content and ranking signals for your site.

Google stated: “To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first. Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results. Of course, while our index will be built from mobile documents, we’re going to continue to build a great search experience for all users, whether they come from mobile or desktop devices.”

Mobile is even MORE important now.

More people than ever are living their lives on multiple screens. In fact, internet usage on mobile and tablet devices has surpassed desktop computers for the first time ever in the month of October 2016.

This doesn’t necessarily mean more people are using mobile devices vs. computers, but it does indicate that users are increasingly reliant on their mobile devices to search, view and interact with websites. If a site is not mobile-friendly, users are five times more likely to abandon the task they are trying to complete and more likely to find another site that will fit their needs.

With that said, having a mobile-friendly website is absolutely critical in having an online presence. Sites that are not configured to be mobile-friendly will still be discoverable, but it’s likely the site will fall in search rankings..and who wants to be on page 10 of Google search results?

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Steps you can take to optimize your site for Google’s mobile-first index:

  • Make sure the mobile version of your website presents the same content as your desktop version.
  • Take Google’s Mobile Friendliness Tool which will simply give you a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.
  • Use the Mobile Speed Test Tool to check the speed of your site and learn why pages may be slow to load. Users expect sites to load within 3-6 seconds, anything more can result in a negative mobile experience for your users.
  • Make sure the mobile and desktop versions of your website both use structured data. Google recommends using their Structured Data Testing Tool to ensure that structured data markup is correct for mobile and desktop. It provides a variety of ways to develop, test and modify your structured markup.
  • Test your site’s robots.txt file to ensure that Google is able to crawl the mobile version of your site.
  • Make sure the mobile version of your site is verified in Search Console.

In Summary

The key factor behind the index separation is to provide mobile users with the most relevant, freshest content and providing a better overall user experience.

Having a proper mobile-friendly site is no longer optional, but essential. Google has stepped in to affirm its importance. Beyond simply having your site be mobile-friendly, the quality of and appearance of content needs to be carefully considered.

Is your website prepared for Google’s mobile-first index? Contact our team and we can help mobile-optimize your site!