You may have heard about 'mobile-first' and 'mobile-first indexing' in Google. This discussion has actually been going on since 2016. Google started moving some sites into its mobile-first indexing and now has accelerated that process. Google has continually said that mobile-friendliness is a top priority. This week's announcement underscores that.
Engine-ius Marketing offers these definitions and directives to help you make sense of this critical Google update:
- Google used to crawl the desktop version of a site first. Now it will crawl the mobile version first. Should there be no mobile version, the desktop version will still be crawled, and ranked.
- Google says that the most mobile-friendly sites are being moved to mobile-first indexing. This was already underway, and Engine-ius Marketing had noted this change as early as two years ago. The shift to mobile-first indexing has accelerated with Google's announcement this week.
- It's important to understand what 'mobile-first indexing' means, and the difference between it and desktop indexing, in Google, and why this change to mobile-first indexing is important.
Before: Desktop-First Indexing
- Website's desktop version is crawled.
- If there is a mobile version, Google adds 'brownie points' for ranking the mobile and desktop sites.
Now: Mobile-First Indexing
- Google attempts to crawl website's mobile version.
- If the website has no mobile version, the desktop version will still be crawled and attention will be paid to its elements (content, user-experience) for ranking purposes.
- If the site offers a superior mobile version, then it will receive a higher priority in mobile search results.
Key point: Sites with especially good content (content that answers questions and is tightly aligned with users' search query intent) may still rank well, even without a good mobile version of the site. But mobile sites that offer a great user experience AND great content have the opportunity for the best rankings (and the most potential click-throughs).
The Ideal Google Mobile Indexing & Ranking Scenario
The best rankings will go to sites that not only have a mobile version, but provide the best mobile experience for users. This means:
- Pages must load rapidly. Google has announced that page speed will be a ranking factor in its mobile-first index. Therefore, webmasters must make page speed a priority when optimizing their mobile pages. 1-3 seconds is ideal; the bounce rate climbs dramatically the longer pages take to load.
- User experience is extremely important. Part of user experience is page speed. It also refers to a clean rendering page and easy-to-use navigation. If the user has to scroll side to side or pinch and zoom to access site navigation, then this is not considered mobile-friendly.
- Websites should load and render well on all mobile devices. Websites will need to be tested to see how they load and render on tablets and smartphones; Android and iOS.
Google has made mobile-first a priority, so site owners must do the same, to ensure best rankings in Google search results. This is a key issue that cannot be placed on the back burner anymore. It is a top priority issue, and needs to be addressed by a site owner's development team as soon as possible, to ensure that sites have the best opportunity for top visibility in Google SERPs.
Need help interpreting Google's latest mobile-first announcement and how it affects your website in Google Search? Contact Engine-ius Marketing!
Engine-ius Marketing is a full-service search engine optimization (SEO) reseller consulting firm. What separates us from our competition is that we utilize intelligent and experienced people who think always think outside of the box for all of our client marketing solutions. While many companies say that, we prove it every day by envisioning, planning, executing and measuring our customers' success via multiple search and digital channels.
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