Are You Prepared for Google’s Mobile First Index? You Should Be

If you have a question or are looking for a business, you Google.  If you are a small business you want to be found on Google, which means you need a website, which needs to be mobile first index ready…

Simple, right? It depends.

Is your website responsive? Is it mobile first index ready? Are you making smart design and SEO decisions?

Google, the reigning number one in search engines, is changing up they way they rank websites.

It has received a lot of press and even has a hashtag: #mobilegeddon.  This is, of course, a dramatic response, but it does speak to the importance of this change.

Back in 2015, Google made the announcement that it would be changing the way it searches pages and sites.

It is happening now.  But no need to panic.

If you approach it correctly, the mobile first index can be a great thing for you and your business.

It’s called, Mobile First Index.

Here is what you need to know and do:

What does this mean?

More and more Google searches are coming from mobile devices.

So much more that Google feels it the right time to start changing how its algorithms comb the internet for search results.

How has Google created its primary search engine index in the past?

Traditionally Google’s algorithm has searched desktop versions of websites for those all important SEO triggers of titles, headlines, structured data, and tags.

This determines what pages rank at the top of your search query.

Is that changing?

The core algorithm is not changing.

Where it’s looking is changing. It’s going to the mobile version first.

The mobile first index algorithm will be using the same formula (so SEO-techniques stay the same) but it will be searching mobile versions of those pages.

If a site doesn’t have a mobile version, the desktop version will be used, but viewed through a mobile first index search.

This is important.  We’ve all clicked on a website on our phone only to have it appear disjointed, it’s hard to navigate, and you suspect some information is missing.

If Google is looking at your site in this mobile first index manner, then your carefully crafted titles, headlines, links, and content may be missed.  And, not showing up in a Google search.

What should I do?

Determine if your site is responsive, or mobile friendly.

If it is responsive or mobile first friendly, you’re good to go, in theory.

But there are still things you can do to increase optimization:

  • Use Google’s Search Console to
    • monitor font size issues, spacing on tabs or links, and identifying out-of-date technologies.
    • see exactly what Googlebot sees: click on “Fetch as Google.” Then from the gray drop-down, select “Fetch and Render: Mobile Smartphone.”
  • Consider site speed.  It matters. Seconds matter.  A fast loading website increases customer satisfaction and improves conversion rates.Speed-zappers:
    • Cheap hosting, because:
      • you do really get what you pay for,
      • it can lead to slower loading times, and
      • host size should be based on the size of your business for best results.
    • Ads
      • too many ads can slow your site speed.
    • Design
      • unnecessary widgets and HD images require additional code and space,
      • use PNG for your images, and
      • consider hiring a designer or consultant as your business and site grows.

    And speed matters to Google as well:

    In February 2016, Google integrated AMPs or Accelerated Mobile Pages.  AMPs restrict complex coding, like JavaScript, which can slow down how a fast a site loads.  And, AMPs are cached on Google servers and can rank higher in search indices.

    Utilize SEO techniques that make for easy mobile browsing:

    • keep headings between 15 and 65 characters
    • use proper subheadings so it’s easier for your viewers
    • identify hot topics for your target audience using Quora, Reddit, and Facebook groups.  Use exact phrases from your target audience in your writing
    • create a landing page that is easy to fill out on a mobile device and full of clear, targeted information (which will be great for the mobile first index),
    • start utilizing infographics; they can be easily enlarged on mobile devices and are great a quickly transmitting a lot of information.
    • use links that provide helpful information to your customers and are easy to use on your smartphone

What if my site is not mobile first index friendly?

1) Go here and register your mobile website.  This will verify with Google that you have a mobile version of your site.

2) Use the Google Structured Data Testing Tool to see if your data is the same on your desktop and mobile versions. The goal is 0 errors and 0 warnings. If you have errors and warnings, contact your website designer.

There is so much to do.

Yes, there is.  And the industry is changing

And the industry is changing every day.  Mobile first indexing is only one of several technological advances and changes impacting how potential customers find you.

It is recommended that you contact a professional to help you, letting you focus on running your business.

Missing out on the power of Google’s mobile first index could be detrimental to your success.

Work with your website designer or consultant to:

  • Choose an appropriate hosting option for your business needs,
  • Select a parent and child theme that are responsive, WordPress offers responsive sites and a plug-in for AMP-optimized sites,
  • Decide which widgets, banners, and ads are helping your site and not hindering it,
  • Increase SEO
  • Consistently check for site loading speeds, functionality, ease for users, and Google rankings.

Final Thoughts

Don’t panic.

While Google has begun using mobile first index, it is not the only indexing occurring.  Currently, the company is using a mix of the mobile first index and desktop first index.  And no, there isn’t really a way to tell which indexing is combing through your site.

So while Google hasn’t provided a timeline for when all indexing will be mobile first, it is going to happen.

This is good news for two reasons:

1) Google is taking its time in rolling out mobile first index in order to make sure it is done correctly and any bugs can be addressed.  This means wide-spread disruptions should be next to nil.

2) You have time to make sure your site is mobile first index ready and seek assistance if it’s not.  Think months, not years.

Now that you have some insight on this #mobilegeddon, it’s time to embrace the future of commerce: mobile.

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