Mobile-First Indexing And What It Means For SEO
Mobile-first indexing has taken center stage and has quickly taken the attention of SEO professionals. Since Google brought the update Mobilegeddon back in 2015 it was certain that importance of mobile optimization will increase. Now, with more than 70% of the web traffic coming from smartphones, Google not just wants your mobile version to be completely optimized but Google wants your website’s mobile version to be “the version” of your website
Mobile-first indexing signifies a major shift in Google’s guidelines for SEO professionals and website owners. This has led to a number of questions for website owners and SEO professionals. What are going to be the effects of mobile-first indexing on the SEO of a website? How it will modify the search indexing and ranking of a website and in what way?
But honestly this was coming, after Mobilegeddon it was quite clear where Google is trying to direct us, what Google has done is taken things slowly and gradually and those who kept an eye on what Google has been trying to do will certainly remain on top.
To understand what Google is trying to do you have to first observe and take in the process of indexing and ranking
Indexing and ranking
I will try to explain it in simple words. After indexing your website on any search engine, not only Google, your website gets crawled by the search engine bot which reads and store all the readable information on your website. Basically what the search engine does is it stores all the information and data of your website in its index, like a library.
Now when you relate ranking to indexing, it is the process which takes place after the complete indexing of the website, meaning when the search engine has stored each and every readable information of your website. This is where the search engine processes the information it has stored in its index related to your website to rank you on search results pages on the basis of relevance and how detailed the information is.
When you talk about relevance of the information, this is where the search engine determines whether the information on your website is relevant to what you are offering, the URL of the website and its pages and the keyword phrases used by you in your content.
More relevant the content with regards to the search queries from users the better your site will rank.
Long story short, indexing is the foundation and it is after only that your website could rank.
Mobile-first indexing is exactly as its name suggests, it is indexing but what is the difference. It’s what you call a shift in Google’s indexing policy, a major one, where the mobile version of your site will be given first preference when indexing. That doesn’t mean that your desktop version will be completely disregarded but your mobile version will become the primary version of your website and become the first priority for Google.
The good thing is, if you understand, that only your mobile version will get indexed first rather than your desktop version. Which means problem will only surface if your mobile version is not optimized or you still don’t’ have a mobile version, which would be quite baffling though given the era we are in. Anyways, what you have to do is keep your mobile version perfectly optimized and up to speed with the same content as on the desktop version, speed optimized and the website on mobile version should be completely responsive.
Why is Google moving towards mobile-first indexing?
Google has been moving in this direction for the last 4-5 years, if you haven’t noticed that then you really need to brush up on your research. It was obvious that Google would do that since the majority of website traffic is in bound from smartphones, more than 70% to be specific.
You just need to get into your website’s analytics to see how much traffic you are acquiring from smartphones. You must know by now that Google’s core philosophy is to provide the best browsing experience to the user and when the user has switched from laptops and desktops to smartphones it is Google’s responsibility to improve the user’s browsing experience on mobile phones.
It was inevitable that Google will move in this direction and so websites who have optimized mobile versions will get preference over those who do not. It is that simple.
So what happens now?
There’s no need to get all tensed and sweaty about that, let me help you understand.
Firstly you do not need to worry, because Google is still in the testing stage of this process and is moving rather gradually and cautiously about it, only websites Google determines to be ready for this change are being given this pill to take in. But, this does not mean your will be exempted, if you have the time then make use of it because this will hit every website whose mobile version are not optimized in not so distant future.
Secondly it will not upset your business and ranking a whole lot if your website design is responsive and live, and the content on the website is equivalent to that of your desktop version. If that is the case then you probably need not to worry. But your competition may get the nod if they improve their mobile version, so maybe you cannot sit idle.
Keep your mobile website optimized and up to the task at all cost.
What should one do with their mobile website?
If you have a mobile version of your website, I cannot comprehend anyone not having a mobile version, then you need to determine certain things.
- At the very least have the same content on your mobile version as it is on your desktop version. Any images or videos on desktop version must be on the mobile version also. It would be better to improve your mobile version even more, not just the content but also the design.
- All your Metas should be same or similar or equivalent to the desktop version.
- Do not miss out on adding social buttons on your mobile version, your users would like to share your content and they will not copy and paste, remember that, they will use the social buttons.
- Every link to the sitemap of your website on the desktop are present on the mobile version
- Structured data should be the same for both mobile and desktop version of your website, just avoid adding any irrelevant information within the structured data.
What if I don’t have a mobile version or a responsive mobile version?
First if you do not have a mobile version, then get it done ASAP, you are already lagging way behind your competition.
Secondly, this will come as a good news, your ranking will not plummet if you are not up to speed with your mobile versions. That is because there are still a lot users and a significant amount of web traffic which comes from desktops, so your website’s desktop version still has a lot of value. But, you may see your website drop its ranking, which would be due to your competition taking advantage of your not-optimized mobile version.
A responsive and fully optimized mobile version of your website is a major ranking factor for Google. So if you do not have one right now then it is inevitable that your ranking will suffer. Google will simply put you down the priority list, websites with a mobile version will be given more preference and rightly so.
So Google will use mobile version to rank my website?
Ideally what Google will do is index the mobile version of your website first which meaning that your mobile version will get preference over the desktop version as the primary version, as I mentioned that earlier. Keeping this in mind, your desktop version not lose its worth, just your ranking will suffer, and you have to understand this difference.
You will definitely see variable search results on desktop and mobile versions. You will have to equal effort on both sides.
If you want to read more interesting articles about SEO and digital marketing then head over to SEO Shines.