Google moves to mobile-first index

SEO / 16 Nov 2016

Most Google users are ‘searching’ on mobile devices, so it only seems fair that Google ranks websites accordingly. In the coming months, Google’s rankings will primarily focus on the mobile version of websites, only looking at desktop if there is no mobile version available.

If your website isn’t mobile friendly, Google has said this will not affect your rankings, as it will continue to crawl the desktop version if mobile is not available. Although, now would be a great time to join the mobile revolution. The reason Google is starting mobile-first indexing is due to the overwhelming number of mobile users which has continuously outgrown desktop since 2014. Making your website mobile-friendly is only going to be beneficial to you.

If your mobile site is not as impeccable as your desktop version, it would be a good idea to improve it now in preparation for the change. Websites with a responsive design will not need to worry, however websites with a desktop and mobile version with less content and links on mobile should look at trying to update as soon as possible. 

Google only let us in on this update on November 4th, so it has not gone live yet and no information has been given as to when it will occur. We can probably expect changes to occur in a few months time. In the meantime, here are some tips to ensure your mobile site is optimised as best it can be. 

Include structured data on mobile version

Previously, many site owners removed structured data from the mobile version of their website to improve speed and make the page lighter. However, for this data to appear in search results, it will now need to be available on the mobile version.

Optimise page speed

  • Ensure images are optimised
  • Code is minified
  • Redirects are minimal

Developer Programs Tech Lead, Maile Ohye, stated in Google Site Performance for Webmasters video, that

“Two seconds is the threshold for e-commerce website acceptability. Google aims for under a half second.”

Create A Responsive design

This way, all the information that is available on the desktop version will be available on mobile. It might be an investment at the time, but it will certainly be worthwhile in improving the optimisation of your website. 

Don’t rush it

Building a quality website is not something that happens overnight. If you have not yet begun working towards creating a mobile version of your site, don’t panic at this announcement and have a rushed, poor-quality attempt. Google has said that a functional desktop site can still rank better than a broken mobile version. Launch the mobile version when it’s a standard you’re happy with.

Are you freaking out right now? Need some help creating a responsive website? Of course you do, that's what we're here for. 

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