What Does Google’s New Mobile-First Indexing Mean for Your Business?Kenneth Nel
“Actually, most of my users access my site on desktop so I’m not too worried about my site being mobile-responsive.”
That is an actual quote from a client who requested a site audit. As we worked through the audit results we determined that the page speed was sluggish, there was little to no content on some of the pages, there were no meta descriptions or SEO titles in place, and there were no alt tags on the images. However, the biggest problem was that this was not a mobile-friendly website.
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Why is this such a big deal?
On the 26th March 2018, Google announced that they had started rolling out their “Mobile-first indexing” after a year and a half of testing. What is this, and what does it mean for you?
What Is A Mobile-Friendly Website?
Firstly, we need to know exactly how a mobile-friendly website differs from a standard site.
In a nutshell, it’s all about ease of use.
A mobile-friendly website will be displaying on a screen that’s significantly smaller than a desktop monitor and will be using a touchscreen and limited directional arrows to navigate, as opposed to a mouse and keyboard. In addition, the user may be using mobile data which is often slower (and far more expensive) than Wi-Fi, so a speedy page loading time is very important.
Therefore for your site to qualify as “mobile-responsive” it needs to satisfy Google (and the other search engines) that it is:
- Fast – Content and images load quickly.
- Easy to read – Fonts and headings are of a correct size and don’t run off the screen.
- Navigating is simple – Smaller screens offer less space for menus which need to be compressed into understandable icons, and the site needs to have a logical flow.
- Sensible scrolling – Both vertical and horizontal scrolling needs to be quick and efficient.
- No unsupported software – For example, Flash is not supported by Apple products.
So now we know what mobile-friendly means, how does this roll out affect you and I?
What Exactly Is Mobile-First Indexing?
In their announcement, Google says, “To recap, our crawling, indexing, and ranking systems have typically used the desktop version of a page’s content, which may cause issues for mobile searchers when that version is vastly different from the mobile version. Mobile-first indexing means that we’ll use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help our – primarily mobile – users find what they’re looking for.”
Google is indicating that, with more and more people accessing the web through their mobile devices, they have made the decision to rank a website page based on the mobile version of the site and not the desktop version.
Google started heading in this direction as far back as 2015 where good mobile sites saw a rise in their ranking, and slow-loading content was downranked.
Therefore, if you have an older site or one that is not mobile-friendly, then you can expect to see a drop in your rankings as this change continues to roll out.
Lower ranking = less traffic. Fewer Leads. Less Money.
Is Your Site Mobile-Friendly?
The logical question now is, how does my own website rank on the mobile-friendliness scale?
A quick way to check would be to head on over to Google and plug your website URL into their testing page.
This is the result you will be looking for:
As another option, visit your site on your phone or tablet. Note how fast the pages load, how the information is displayed, and how easy it is to read.
If your mobile-friendly results are not supporting your marketing efforts then you will be spending a lot more time and money than you need to in all of your digital efforts. And nobody wants that!
We encourage you to look into the importance of a mobile-friendly website and how it will impact your business in the very near future. We’d love to help – please feel free to call us or drop us an email so we can work together.