Google’s ‘mobile-first’ index and your website – are you ready?

Earlier in 2018, Google announced that it would soon be rolling out ‘mobile-first’ indexing. The search company has been testing and experimenting for around 18 months, and it will now put its plan to revolutionise the way search indexing is operated into action.

What is mobile-first indexing?

In simple terms, mobile-first indexing involves indexing mobile versions of website content first, before desktop website content. As Google puts it on a blog on the topic:

“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.”

As for the reason behind the change, it comes after countless pieces of research have revealed that searches and traffic on mobile devices has now surpassed that of desktop. For example:

  • In 2017, studies showed that 57% of traffic came from smartphones and tablets.
  • Smart Insights reported in January 2018 that in the US, mobile digital media time was 51% compared to just 42% on desktop. The same article also stated that a massive 80% of internet users have a smartphone.

The message is very clear – consumers want their websites to be mobile-friendly. Naturally, Google is taking the lead in adapting to and preparing for this shift in the way we get online.

Is my site ready?

If this is the first you’re hearing of mobile-first indexing, you’ll need to do a review of your website as a matter of urgency. If plans for a mobile-friendly site have been on the backburner for a while, your company really can’t afford to delay any longer. A mobile site is now a necessity, not a ‘nice to have’. If you continue to delay, you are not only losing customers trying to access your site content from a mobile device. Now that Google is indexing mobile site content first, you could soon be missing out on a lot more traffic. All of your hard work on SEO could be wasted.

Here are the key things you need to do now to prepare for Google’s mobile-first indexing change:

  • Make sure that your site is mobile-responsive. This is different to being mobile-friendly, as it ensures that your content will automatically adapt to whatever screen size it is viewed on – so it remains functional for users.
  • Consider carefully whether you want to build a separate mobile site. This could mean that you end up maintaining and updating two separate versions of your site, which can be hugely time-consuming. It can also be difficult to maintain consistency across the two.
  • If you have a mobile version of your site already, make sure it is added and verified on Google’s Search Console.

For advice and support in preparing for Google’s mobile-first indexing, or to find out if you need to do anything to your site, please don’t hesitate to contact the Ambos Digital experts.