Back in April 2015, the SEO community panickily welcomed Mobilegeddon update, and Google made it pretty clear that it’s taking the experience of mobile users very seriously. And rightly so!
Almost a year and a half later, mobile internet usage surpassed desktop usage for the very first time. The world formally entered its 'mobile-first' age, and all eyes of SEOs were back on Google. The search engine didn’t disappoint. After many months of testing, in March of 2018, it officially rolled out its "mobile-first indexing".
Okay, enough of the storytelling now. Let’s get straight to the point.
What is Google’s Mobile-First Index?
Search results vary on desktop and mobile even when using the same queries.
Earlier, Google used desktop’s version of a website to rank them on handheld devices. Meaning, they prioritized how your website looks and functions on desktop more than its mobile version even when ranking it for mobile users.
The mobile-first indexing is a radical turn to this way of ranking. The update is meant to consider the "mobile first" experience of a website foremost to rank it on SERP across devices.
Here’s how Google describes it: "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."
(i) There are NO two separate indexes for desktop and mobile.
(ii) Mobile version of your website will be primarily used for indexing and ranking on mobile and desktop.
(iii) The desktop version of your website will not be ignored; remember it’s "mobile-first" and NOT "mobile-only".
(iv) Even if it doesn’t have a mobile version or good mobile-compatibility, your website will rank on SERP (albeit poorly)
Now, this update may not necessarily have been the good news for many webmasters who rely on ‘spray and pray’ methods. However, for few SEO professionals, who have long been focusing on the mobile traffic just as much, it was all reveling.
Here, at Kreative Machinez, a recognized digital marketing company in Kolkata, we believe that business owners, with smart measures, can easily leverage on mobile-first indexing to further optimize the website to generate higher organic traffic.
Here are 5 tips to benefit from Google’s mobile-first index:
Understand where you are right now
The first step towards improvement is knowing exactly where you are now. Is your website responsive and mobile-friendly? It’s a base level of being in the good books of Google following this critical update. Google has a nice tool to check this: Mobile-friendly test.
If the website is mobile-friendly, good enough. If not, contact a good digital marketing company in Bangalore to discuss how to move about from here with this situation without hurting your current rankings on SERP.
Next up, use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to see how optimized your website is for the mobile users. The website will be scored out of 100. Also, the result will return back with several recommendations. Implement them. It’s best if you’ve got a qualified web developer by your side.
How quick is your website?
A one-second delay in the loading time of a page can result in 11 percent page views. And 53 percent of people will leave a mobile page if it takes longer to load.
Google recommends you speed up your website as much as possible. However, the threshold level is 3 seconds. That’s how fast your landing pages must load.
While there hasn’t been anything explicitly mentioned about how your website speed will play a role following the mobile-first indexing, one can assume it’s going to have enough impact at least indirectly.
When a mobile landing page loads slow, the bounce rate and pogo-sticking will be high. In an age of Google RankBrain, these are two important components to identify good (or bad) UX. And when UX is bad for mobile users, the website is more likely to take a hit on search ranking.
So, even when the mobile-first update might not necessarily directly incorporate website’s speed in its ranking factor, the loading time will, in one way or another, come to play a critical role over the course.
Check your website speed and make the necessary improvements.
Make the fonts readable
Taking forth the above theory of high bounce rate means poorer UX, which can hurt your search ranking, one cannot go about without mentioning readability.
Readability is still one of the most overlooked aspects of the website. You can create all the right contents but if the texts aren’t readable enough, what good those good contents do?!
So, check how easily the texts and other forms of contents on your website can be consumed. What’s the font size, family and weight, what’s the line-height and letter spacing. Looking at these small details can ensure the contents are easily consumable. And if it’s quality content, fixing these details can play a significant role in boosting your website’s dwell time and reduce bounce rate.
Getting these metrics in green would mean the website is delivering good UX to the mobile users, which would then positively affect its search ranking on handheld devices as well as desktop.
Are mobile and desktop versions same?
Visit www.facebook.com and m.facebook.com. You will notice how different these two versions are. The mobile version, in the name of being lightweight, is poor with much less contents.
So many organizations take the same approach. They have a separate version of the mobile website that hides a large part of important components. If that’s you, you might want to change that. Make sure the primary contents on the mobile version is exactly the same (in quantity and quality) as the desktop versions of the website.
Don’t hide important features and information, like an ‘About Us’ in the footer using responsive CSS tags, just to shorten the length of the page and make it lightweight.
Fix things in the backend
You need a top digital marketing company in Mumbai by your side, who has a good team of developers, to help you at the backend. While there isn’t much needed here, there are still a few things that need to be looked after:
- Say goodbye to the popups. They slow down the website’s loading time and make up for poor user experience. Instead, opt for sliders and welcome mats.
- Give your Robots.txt file a look and make sure there aren’t any directives blocking a webpage in the mobile version of your website.
- Make the website less image-centric. Also, keep the images optimized and compressed, and use CDN for its fast loading.
- In case of two separate versions, make sure the structured data is present in the mobile version so search bots understand your website correctly.
- Use canonical and alternate tags carefully to avoid any issue of duplicate contents between different versions.
- Work on the UX optimization of the website by making necessary changes like enlarging CTA buttons for easy click, highlighting visited links with different colors and so forth.
These are few changes and improvements you need to make at the backend of your website.
The aforementioned are the 5 tips that you can use to benefit from the mobile-first indexing update irrespective of whether you have two versions of the website or just one. At this moment, it’s really early to comment on what will work and what won’t work given the lack of relevant data.
However, this algorithm update from Google is a leap step towards shaping internet into mobile devices, going away from the desktops. So, it’s important that hand-in-hand with a reputed digital marketing company in Delhi, you tread the water carefully. After all, we’ve seen in the past how one of such Google’s algorithm updates can literally finish businesses online.
Up until a couple of years back, so many webmasters didn’t care about mobile users and their experience. While some outright ignored this emerging trend, there were many others who thought that since they get more desktop users, optimizing the website for mobile users would make less sense.
But today, following the mobile-indexing update, even if your website doesn’t get many visitors from handheld devices, it’s imperative that you obsessively care about the mobile users. Because your mobile game holds the rope of your SEO. Leave it loose and your website will be found lost in the crowd of millions of competitors on SERP. Be careful and smart, it would steer not just your mobile ranking but also, at times, the desktop’s.
We, here at Kreative Machinez, has been one of the early adopters on the scene, incorporating mobile experience in our web development and SEO strategies in a big way. And this has been a key reason why we’re now recognized as a leading digital marketing company in Kolkata with a presence in top-tier cities like Bangalore, Mumbai, Gurgaon and Delhi, touting a client base spread across the world in countries like the USA, Canada, and Australia.
On the back of our qualified and diversified team, we mechanize advance UX and marketing strategies that, in sync with the latest trends and search engine updates, assure to keep you ahead of your competitors.
If you’re looking to leverage on the countless opportunities that Google’s mobile-first indexing has brought, get in touch with us. Not sure how this update has hit your website? We also provide FREE website analysis. Let us assist you to stay ahead in this ever-changing digital world.