Mobile-first Indexing: What you Need to Know

Search Engine Optimization - SEO

Updated on Dec 3, 2019

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There has been a shift in recent years in the way Google indexes websites that reflects the growing number of search engine users who are using mobile devices. Previously, Google was more concerned with the desktop version of sites, but after recent algorithm updates, indexing is now mobile-first. In other words, spiders are first sent to the mobile version of a site before Google determines where you will rank. For most sites, this will not have as drastic an effect as you may think. However, it is wise to understand the subtle differences this may make to best SEO practice.

How Will This Affect My Website?

Google has made the decision to prioritise mobile results, giving website owners a strong incentive to ensure that their site is optimised to be as mobile-friendly as possible.

If your website is responsive, there probably won’t be massive consequences for you. Since content is identical on both platforms, spiders will see the same thing. The only concern you may have is readability for users – a page is far less compelling for mobile users when they need to scroll down all the way to the bottom to see something important that appears relatively prominently on the desktop version.

If your site is not responsive or content is dramatically different on the two platforms, you may suffer.

What Can I Do to Optimise?

• Mobile-Friendliness Test: Desktop sites can still be indexed and an alternate version is not mandatory, but Google places an emphasis on mobile-friendliness when deciding rankings. Thankfully, there’s a free test to determine this that will give any URL a basic pass or fail. It seems that the pass threshold here is very low, so if your site fails the test, it may be time to enlist the help of an agency offering affordable SEO packages.

• User Experience: Consider the fundamental differences between the two platforms. Design needs to be different for a smaller screen – users don’t want to have to scroll for content! You may also want to adapt content itself to improve user experience. Reading from a smaller screen is more difficult, so snappier sentences and compact paragraphs will make the experience easier. You should also ensure that fonts used are large enough, clear enough and that there is enough space on the page to prevent it from appearing cluttered. Some affordable SEO packages will include a content programme to help you create the most effective, user-friendly text.

• Snippets: An off-page optimisation factor worth considering is the snippet. You may find that adjusting the meta description or title to something a little more concise makes your site appear more attractive in the mobile version. A title such as ‘Finding SEO Packages That Can Deliver Great Results without Breaking the Bank’ might read better as ‘Finding Affordable SEO Packages’.

If you’re still unclear about how to use this information to optimise your site, it may be worth seeking affordable SEO packages offered by professional agencies – SEO experts can talk you through all the elements of effective optimisation and put together a campaign that will work for your business.

Mobile-first indexing shouldn’t be cause for panic. Older sites that aren’t as up-to-date with the phenomenon of mobile searches are the ones that will be suffering the most in terms of rankings. In any case, it should be a priority to ensure that your site delivers an excellent user experience across both platforms. Remember, if you are designing a new site, it’s wise to optimise it for mobile use first before adapting it to desktop.

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Kit Jones is a professional consultant at LeadGeneratorsDigital, a successful online marketing agency focusing on a variety of digital strategies including content and SEO marketing. The agency provides affordable SEO for businesses looking to not only boost their Google rankings, but also their conversion rates and the overall quality of their site.
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