With the increasing popularity of smartphones, mobile internet browsing has surpassed desktop browsing. A majority of internet users find it convenient to browse the internet with the help of their mobile phones.
It all started in March 2018 when Google announced it has started migrating websites to a mobile-first index and switched to the modern technique on 12th July 2019. You can find out when your website made this transition by visiting the Search Console account and choosing the Settings option.
Google has been fully aware that more and more users have been turning to mobile searches for years. Therefore, before taking the final action, Google pushed online businesses for several years to optimize their websites for mobile phones. This indicated that Google has been planning something big and website owners should listen to Google guidelines.
Mobile-First Indexing: Introduction
Still confused about the purpose of mobile-first indexing and its impacts on SEO? Let’s discuss this in detail.
Mobile-first indexing means that Google uses the mobile version of your website for ranking. If your website offers an unmatched user experience on mobile devices, only then will your website ranking meet your expectations. You can reap search engine ranking rewards by focusing on the mobile experience.
Google wants to serve users the best way so they can find answers to their queries in organic search results or paid ads. This approach is extremely important when it comes to mobile devices. The top search engine values mobile users and strives to keep them hooked. For this purpose, it uses rich snippets, knowledge graphs, and shopping feeds to offer a great mobile experience to the audience.
Despite the increasing use of mobile phones for accessing the internet, earning a high click-through rate is a headache for website owners. One of the reasons behind this trend is that Google is working hard to become an answer engine. As a result, providing the search results list has become its secondary priority. Since users find answers to most of their queries within search results, they find it useless to visit ranked websites.
How It Affects SEO
In simple words, your SEO efforts may go in vain if your website isn’t mobile-friendly. Your digital marketing strategy should focus on improving the mobile experience and making your website responsive. This will allow your website to fit the screen size depending on the screen of the device. Regardless of which device and platform are used to access your website, users can enjoy a good online experience.
You can also optimize your website by making it adaptive. This approach involves creating multiple layouts for different devices and allowing the website to show the appropriate version depending on the device. However, this technique isn’t flexible and often means that the best version of your website doesn’t reach the target audience.
If we compare responsive and adaptive techniques, there is no denying that the responsive technique is a far better option. While it may be a little tricky to implement, it ensures that only a single version of your website is accessible to all users. It enhances the user experience by delivering website content in the best possible manner.
To guide website owners and developers, Google has published a set of rules for mobile-first indexing. If you follow these guidelines, you can better understand how to optimize your website and earn higher rankings for mobile search results. Here are some of these:
- The content on desktop and mobile versions of your website should be the same including meta tags. But if your website is responsive, you need not worry about this rule since only a single version of your website is available
- Check your website via Search Console to ensure it displays the entire content on all devices
- If the mobile version of your website has an “m” URL, then don’t forget to use canonical tags. This will eliminate the risk of content duplication and align desktop and mobile versions of your site
You can read the rest of the considerations through the Google guide.
How to Implement Mobile-First Indexing
Here is a brief guide to how you can optimize your website to improve the mobile experience and raise your website ranking:
1. User Experience is the Key
Although many website owners invest in attractive website design, they often ignore user experience. However, you should evaluate user experience with the help of mobile usability reports available in the Search Console. They guide you about potential issues through a mobile-friendly testing tool.
You should also test website speed and content for this purpose. If the website is too slow, the content is too complex or font size isn’t appropriate, then users are less likely to stay on your website for long.
2. High-Speed Websites Bring Success
If a website takes longer than 3 seconds to download on a mobile device, then a majority of visitors leave the webpage without waiting. This leads to an increase in the bounce rate. These statistics suggest the importance of managing website speed.
You can overcome this issue by using Google’s Page Insights tool. It accurately informs you about the loading speed of your website on desktop and mobile devices. You can also utilize its advanced functionalities to compare your website performance with competitors.
3. Monitor Keywords
Keyword rank tracking tools facilitate you to keep an eye on keyword performance for desktop as well as the mobile version of your website. You can also get detailed reports about different aspects such as local listings, rich snippets, and other SERP features.
This practice puts you in a better position to optimize your website for high-performing keywords.
4. Add Structured Data
With Google striving to provide answers to user queries on the search page itself, structured data has become an important feature. Structure data components such as rich snippets enhance user experience and enable Google to better understand the content on a webpage.
Schema.org website aids website developers to mark-up websites and add structured data. When it comes to structured data, always follow Google guidelines and stay away from unethical activities for they hamper your efforts in the long run.
5. PWAs Can Be Useful
Not every smartphone user has access to the internet 24/7. If you want to add value to them, you should consider switching to Progressive Web Apps (PWA). PWAs are particularly useful for e-commerce stores and news websites. These are native apps with additional features. Aside from offering online experience, you can also make the most of offline features and push notifications.
6. AMPs Are a Must
The key to achieving high mobile search engine ranking is to boost your website speed. To make this task easier and boost user experience, Google has introduced Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). These web pages display information on mobile devices at a lightning-fast speed.
Now that you have read the aforementioned guide, you can better understand the purpose of mobile-first indexing and how it impacts your SEO efforts. Digital marketers that look out for industry development and take action to stay ahead can future proof their business websites.