By now, you must already be aware that: Google usually crawls’ sites looking for pages to add to its search index. This is achieved through the deployment of several bots specifically designed to surf around your site like a real visitor (and in the process follow links back to your pages).
Recent reports indicate that Google just started rolling out it’s so – called “mobile first-index”. This follows the official declaration of 2016 as the year in which mobile searches overtook desktop. This coupled with Google’s recent announcement of mobile index first has elicited debate in various quarters as to whether this announcement marks the end of the desktop SEO as it is known or not?
Being experts in responsive web design, here are a few things we are convinced you to need to know about Google’s mobile-first index so that you can optimize your website accordingly.
What is the mobile-first index?
It simply refers to a completely new approach to how Google crawls’ your site and consequently ranks it in search engine result pages. Previously, Google used to crawls’ sites as a desktop user; this, however, has been changed with the rollout of the mobile first index. Moving forward, Google aims to crawl sites as a mobile user. This is a distinct shift with a really big difference.
For instance, your website might be presenting a different display to mobile users in comparison to desktop users. As a matter of fact, there are instances in which links which appear on the desktop version of your site might never appear on the mobile version. This is bad since the bots deployed to crawl the site would not be able to follow links which are absent (non-existent). As a result of this, your site would most definitely end up sustaining a hit in the Search engine result pages.
Remember, Google depends on a number of signals to determine where your site should land in the SERPs. This being the case, in the event that the bot finds that your site is in any way hostile to mobile users or otherwise is loading rather slowly, you can expect to lose rank.
Why has Google decided to introduce the mobile-first index?
In case you are wondering why Google has decided to make the switch to mobile first index then the answer is simple. Mobile search has taken over (that’s the short answer).
More specifically, the number of mobile users has surpassed the number of desktop users. As a matter of fact, Google itself is late in making the switch. According to reports, there are more mobile searches than desktop searches hence the reason it makes perfect sense to have Google’s bots crawl pages as mobile users.
Other key points of consideration include:
In case you don’t have a mobile site, you can still rest easy since the Google bots would crawl your desktop site version but using a mobile agent hence you will still be able to be indexed. Taking into consideration the above, you should definitely switch over to a more responsive template. Besides, in this day and age, you will agree and support the fact that anyone who is serious about making any statement online should adapt to a mobile platform.
Another important thing is how significant will the changes be in ranking following the adoption of google’s mobile-first indexing. Well, there are those who are convinced that mobile first indexing would not bring about any significant changes in rankings. Some, however, insist that it is still too early to tell. The fact remains, as long as your site is not friendly to any mobile audiences don’t expect it to rank well for a particular set of keywords.
Mobile first indexing has already started being rolled out and its full implementation is expected to take months before completion. Google hasn’t provided any definite date since it is still running a test on the code though it’s they have already rolled it out. Concerning queries whether there will be two indexes; Google will only move forward with one index and that will be the mobile index. Just so you know, a section of users will see results from the mobile index while a select section of users will see results from the desktop index. Actually, no one would have an idea which index it is that they are seeing results from.
Besides serving as a leading branding and web design agency in India, we also have vast experience in WordPress web design. This qualifies us to optimize your site to be in line with Google mobile first index preferences. Upon hiring us to optimize your site for Google’s mobile first index, you can expect us:
a. To significantly improve your site’s speed performance.
We are fully aware that making your site load faster is key to ranking on mobile. We, therefore, would place emphasis on the optimization of images on your site, minify code, reduce redirects and above all else leverage browsing cache all of which will translate to significantly improved site speed performance.
In the early days of mobile design it was normal to block such elements since they complicated site performance. That is not the case now, smartphones have become so powerful plus the smartphone GoogleBot is also able to handle them and properly categorize them. We, therefore, will make sure we never hide them.
c. Help you set up a responsive mobile design
This we would be able to achieve by never using flash, getting rid of pop-ups, and placing emphasis on coming up with a site navigation design that is user-friendly which includes allowing users to scroll with relative ease.
d. Provide continuous on page optimization services
We are aware that for mobile SERPs you have limited room to work with hence the need to keep your titles and descriptions concise and straight to the point. We prioritize this since it will help the Google bot to understand your site pages faster in turn providing a detailed understanding of what your site is all about.
e. Provide localized optimization services
This will help significantly improve your mobile visibility and will be achieved by:
i. including the city and state in the title tag
ii. including the city and state in the H1 headings
iii. including the state in the URL, content and in alt tags
iv. including the city and state in the Meta description
Everything is taken into consideration, next time you are performing a Search engine optimization for your site; focus on optimizing it for mobile audiences. As a matter of fact, don’t wait right until the switch to mobile indexing is official, now is the time for action.