Google is all about improving the user experience. Lately, that means adapting to the changing methods through which users consume online information. In other words, Google will be moving towards mobile-first indexing.
What does it mean for your online business? What do you need to do – if anything – to ensure that you’re out in front of this change? So that you don’t get caught in the competition’s rear view mirror, let’s discuss what’s meant by the term “mobile-first indexing” and the ways in which we can address it head on.
What is mobile-first indexing, exactly?
Up until now, Google had indexed pages with a nod toward desktop first. Going forward, your rankings will be based upon the mobile version of your site first and foremost. Don’t confuse this with a mobile-only index. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you’ll still rank. However, your rankings may be adversely affected by the change. Conversely, those who present a rich, improved mobile experience, will likely see better rankings for mobile as well as desktop versions of their website.
How quickly will mobile-first indexing be implemented?
We’re told that Google will roll this change out very slowly. This stands to reason as no one wants to see a seismic shift of any kind in the online business landscape. And, if your customers’ mobile experience is similar to that of desktop (for example, you’re already responsive), you probably won’t have to do much to ensure that you’re ready for the change.
However, things can move faster than originally anticipated. And, with every change comes opportunity. Even if you’ve got a responsive site and you’re ranking well for primary keywords, this is a great time to check the elements that will affect your rankings once Google shifts its focus more towards mobile.
If you’ve been maintaining two sites, one for mobile and one for desktop, you may wish to consider a website redesign – a move to a single, responsive website. If this is beyond your budgetary capabilities, all is not lost. Step one is to make sure that content is consistent on both desktop and mobile versions of the site. Verify that the mobile version is crawl-able and includes the required alt tags for images. Some of the more significant things you’ll want to check include:
- XML sitemap.: Make sure sitemaps and robots.txt files have accessible links.
- Structured data markup on mobile and desktop.: Make sure they’re the same.
- Metadata: Check to see that both versions are roughly the same. They don’t have to be identical, however they shouldn’t deviate in meaning.
These are just a few of the items you’ll want to address. Your best bet is to contact your digital marketing people and let them know of your concerns. They’ll know what to do. If they’re unsure, call us. We can help.
It is believed that Google will roll out this new mobile-first indexing over a period of years, not weeks or months. No need to be alarmed. However, now is the time to plan for mobile-first indexing. After all, objects may be closer than they appear.