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Mobile is booming. Over the last few years, we’ve seen a stark change in how consumers are searching online. While desktop search reigned supreme for many years, recently users have quickly shown advertisers and marketers how powerful mobile search has become with over sixty percent of searches performed on a mobile device. Even Google acknowledged that mobile had eclipsed desktop searches way back in March of 2015.
As mobile continues to grow, Google has already given us many reasons to provide a user-friendly and continuous browsing experience on mobile, including a healthy rankings boost for mobile-friendly sites. Moving into 2017, Google is looking to take mobile rankings to the next level with the mobile-first index.
While the official roll out date of the mobile-first index has yet to be released, it’s important for all to be ready for its release. Follow along as we break down what the mobile-first index is and what you steps you can take to be prepared.
What is the Mobile-First Index?
Google has recognized that mobile is becoming the preferential search platform for a majority of online searchers. To better represent this transition, Google has begun testing an indexing system, called the mobile-first index, that will index the mobile version of a website over the desktop version.
What Does this Mean for Search Rankings?
For now, we don’t think this will mess with rankings overall. While the mobile-first index is still in testing without a full release, Google has stated that they do not want this to serve as a massive shake-up to search rankings. This mobile-first index is intended not to separate the mobile and desktop indexes; it is intended to make search represent the people that are using it.
Does This Mean a Separation of Mobile and Desktop Indexes?
As we said earlier, this is not a division of mobile and desktop indexing. This is intended to reflect the way the majority of users are currently searching online. This mobile-first index will index the mobile versions of a website first, then index the desktop version.
What is the Danger of Mobile-First Indexing?
While we think implementing a mobile-first index is a great move on the part of Google, there are still some small dangers that can emerge. One of the biggest dangers coming from mobile-first can be the lack of development of responsive and robust mobile sites.
We have seen significant rankings boost for sites that were responsive and mobile-friendly, but many of these sites are lacking content, search directives or appropriate GTM implementation. Include all of these aspects on both mobile and desktop versions for your site to ensure every user has the best experience possible.
But enough of the pros and cons of the upcoming mobile-first index. Let’s get down to how you can prepare!
3 Things You Can Do to Prepare for the Mobile-First Index
While the mobile-first index shouldn’t change anything about how your website will operate or appear in search, there are still some things you can do to prepare.
1. Develop a robust, mobile version of your website.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record: the first and absolute best thing you can do to prepare for mobile-first is to build or redesign your website, so it is optimized for mobile. Simply building a responsive site isn’t going to be enough anymore.
Pro Tip: Don’t remove content from the mobile version of your website. It’s easy to remove certain elements from your mobile site, but don’t remove what’s important. Heading tags, images and videos are all important pieces of your content that should not be removed.
2. Double-check all Canonicals and No Index/No Follows on both versions of your website.
It is incredibly easy to say, “Oh, that’s just the mobile site,” or, “why should we optimize the mobile site?” With the ever-changing landscape and the impending mobile-first index, it’s all the more important to make sure your mobile website has all the same directives and signals as your desktop version.
Pro Tip: Implement canonicals, noindex/nofollow and hreflang tags just as you would on desktop so that this new index system isn’t missing out on the important pages of your website.
3. Optimize your content for mobile SEO.
Mobile SEO is a lot like desktop SEO with some slight variations. Crawlable content, meta information and allowable load times change when optimizing for mobile.
Pro tip: collapsible content is crawled on mobile whereas, on desktop, it is not crawled. This allows for the ability to fit much more content onto mobile platforms than previously thought.
While keywords and searcher intent do not change dramatically between platforms, how people search for information does. On mobile, users use short small phrases or ask questions through voice. These are both important things to keep in mind when developing and optimizing mobile content.
Iowa’s Leading SEO Company: Blue Compass
Blue Compass has been a digital leader in Iowa for nearly 10 years. Our SEO experts are ready to dive into your website to really understand how you can improve your appearance in search. Please contact us below if you have any questions or want to get started today!