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What is Mobile First Indexing and How Does it Impact Your Business?

Mobile first indexing (Mobile-first indexing) is one of the latest developing concepts that has become an integral part of how Google’s search engine operates.  Announced in November 2016 and tested over the last two years, mobile first indexing is slowly being rolled out across the internet as of spring 2018.  On July 9, 2018 Google confirmed that page load speed is now a ranking factor for mobile search.  According to Google, the Speed Update will only affect the slowest of mobile websites.  What does this mean for the many millions of business owners with an online presence?  Mobile-first principles should be applied to all websites in order to stay current and visible at the top of the search rankings.  While desktop sites will still be a part of the index, they will be pushed to a lower ranking as the more mobile-friendly sites remain at the top of the list over time.

Mobile-first indexing is the system developed by Google search to index and rank those sites that are mobile-friendly before sites that are only optimized for desktop.  This mobile-first approach has been driven by internet users who are increasingly on their phones and tablets much more frequently than a desktop computer.  The percentage of mobile phone website traffic has grown dramatically from 6.1% in 2009 to 52.2% in 2018.

Continue reading below to learn more about mobile-first indexing and how it impacts your SEO strategy.

Mobile First, Not Mobile Only

Before we go any further, it’s important to note that the mobile-first indexing is exactly as the name implies.  It is first not only.  Having a website that is designed to be mobile responsive is an absolute must nowadays.  In order to rank highly in the search results, it is imperative that your website is designed with mobile users in mind. With more and more people searching exclusively on mobile, having a website that is only designed for desktop users not only looks amateur and out-of-date but it will ultimately have a negative impact on your business as you will lose out on business by not being featured in the search results by Google.

If your website is not mobile responsive, you should take action immediately.  Consider this: mobile will soon be considered the primary version of any website and if you are not mobile-ready you will be outranked by your competitors.  Now is the time to take steps to ensure you are up-to-date with mobile design principles and you avoid getting left behind by the competition in the near future.

Let’s take a look at how to get started with a few key mobile-first principles.

Design Tips to Boost Your Ranking with Mobile First Indexing 

  • Think About Screen Size

    Something to remember about mobile-first is that there are many sizes of mobile devices.  When designing or reworking your site, make the pages user-friendly with all information easily accessible regardless of the screen size.  Buttons and links should be made a convenient size for larger fingers to tap.

  • Keep it Simple

    Are your website and navigation clear and simple?  Try not to bog down your site with too many extras as this can also affect the speed and loading time of a page.  Remember the phrase “less is more” in relation to website design.  On a mobile device, this is especially true with a smaller screen to read. Keep text in a clear, clean, medium-sized font.

  • Consider Loading Time

    Check your website’s loading speed.  Slower loading speeds can cause users to leave your site too quickly.  Here is a handy guide on how to improve your page loading speeds.

  • Format Your Content

    For those who have  long-form content on their website to help gain better SEO traction, divide up the content into shorter paragraphs, add graphics, and make it easier to read on any device.  A long article can look just fine and easy to read on a desktop or laptop.  However, on a mobile device, the content can look almost too long and convoluted when the paragraphs and formatting are very close together.  It’s just a matter of psychology, for some reason long-form content appears to be more tedious on a smaller screen compared to a larger one.

  • Audio, Video, and Graphics 

Perusing websites and searching for information online will quickly show you which businesses are current and those who have not updated their site in years.  Remember the old days of limited templates and dial-up internet?  While small businesses often have limited resources, the templates available for free or at a very low price are much more complex and modern-looking and only take a small-time investment to rework and redesign.

Using audio, video, and graphics on your site will boost SEO and drive more traffic to your site.  Keep in mind that you don’t want to overcrowd your site, which will have an effect on your loading speed.  In digital marketing, it is better to keep it simple, streamlined, relevant, and mobile-friendly.  One instructional or promotional video under 5 minutes can add a great deal of value to your content.  Remember that iPhone users do not have Flash, so make sure your multimedia content is HTML5 instead.

Mobile-First Methodology

According to Smart Insights, in some countries, mobile internet usage has highly surpassed desktop usage, especially in Indonesia, Mexico, and India.  Western countries such as the U.S., U.K., and much of Western Europe are about 50% mobile and 50% desktop usage.  The trend is increasingly moving towards the mobile device as the primary avenue for searching and gathering online information.  Portable devices have completely changed the way we interact not only for business but also in social interactions and everyday life.

Optimizing your website for mobile-first indexing should now be a fundamental part of your business plan so that your site remains relevant and at the top of Google search results.  While the full rollout has only just been released, this means that more and more mobile-friendly sites will outrank desktop-only sites regardless of the content quality.

Make Changes Now and Future-Proof Your Website

Mobile-first indexing and optimization is one of the most impactful factors in your business search visibility and for you to show up where your customers are.  Take action to revamp and reevaluate your website to make it mobile-first ready and relevant.

Make sure the desktop and mobile versions of your website contain the same consistent information for users.  It would not serve your business well to have two separate sites at this point, this will cause your search ranking to decrease.  Go to the Google Search Console to read more about your site’s metrics, any errors in your site, and much more about how Google understands and reads the content from your website.

Mobile-first indexing is redefining Google search into something more user-friendly for the millions who search on a tablet or phone.  Stay up to date and relevant by optimizing your website for this shift towards encouraging mobile internet usage and ensure you future-proof your website and improve your online presence.  Don’t hesitate to talk with us to our team at Mikesell digital Consulting when we can be of help.  Our mission is to help with anything related to growing your business with the Internet.