Most of the world already accesses the Internet through a mix of mobile and desktop devices, which means that you should be optimising for both experiences in any case. However, even more impressive is the surge of growth for mobile versus desktop usage.
Between 2016 and 2017, visits from mobile devices grew from 57% to 63%, further overtaking desktop usage. With lower bounce rates and a longer average time on spent on websites from mobile visits, it’s no surprise that Google is rolling out mobile-first indexing.
Google will essentially begin indexing your website twice, with the primary index being your mobile-friendly site.
“We continue to have one single index that we use for serving search results. We do not have a “mobile-first index” that’s separate from our main index. Historically, the desktop version was indexed, but increasingly, we will be using the mobile versions of content.” – Google Webmaster Central
That means if you have a responsive website, they will use the mobile version to gather content. If you have two different websites, one for desktop and another built for mobile, Google will consider your mobile website as primary.
“Mobile-first indexing is about how we gather content, not about how content is ranked. Content gathered by mobile-first indexing has no ranking advantage over mobile content that’s not yet gathered this way or desktop content.” – Google Webmaster Central
For websites that are already mobile-responsive, you may not even have to do anything differently. However, this switch in indexing will have at least secondary effects on your rankings.
Until recently, search engines and most developers considered the desktop version of a website as the main site, with responsiveness added as an additional feature for SEO and usability. User experience and SEO was configured for desktop, and then made responsive for mobile.
At Made Neat, mobile-first indexing means we will begin optimising for mobile-first. We’ll use the mobile version of all our clients’ websites for indexing and ranking to better help primarily mobile users find what they’re looking for.
We’ll also be following a few best practices when creating websites.
- Content will be high-quality and easily readable on mobile devices.
- Back-end will be configured for fast loading, as mobile users have some of the shortest attention spans out there.
- We’ll ensure your website navigation is easy-to-use on both front- and back-ends, for user experience as well as search engine crawlers.
- We are able to create mobile-first designs, meaning your website can truly be optimised for mobile.
How mobile-first indexing will help your business
The key to using this new development to your advantage is staying ahead of the game.
As Google becomes stricter with mobile-first indexing, users will begin to notice a decrease in traffic on their website on mobile devices. As 50.3% of searches last year were on mobile, can your business afford not to invest in a mobile responsive website?
A few years ago, having a responsive website contributed to your visitors’ experience. Early movers that adopted this as a best practice benefited from the ranking benefits that were implemented later, with extra time to test and perfect their responsive websites.
We predict that mobile-first indexing is an early sign of a fundamental shift in how websites are optimised, found, and used. The earlier you invest in your mobile websites, the more time you’ll have to perfect it and optimise ahead of your competition.
All website projects with Made Neat are mobile responsive. Made Neat has a variety of industry leading tools to see your customers’ pain points on mobile, and where your site is letting you down. This allows us to identify potential crawler and user issues faster, saving you support costs and, more importantly, saving the sale.