As if you needed anymore reasons to ensure your website is mobile compatible, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, Gary Illyes, confirmed yesterday during PubCon that the search engine will be indexing the mobile versions of a website as the primary index, not the desktop pages.
While we’ve known for sometime now that mobile searches have surpassed desktop, this update is rare in the fact that Google makes amendments almost constantly to it’s over 200 algorithms that determine ranking positions, yet almost never announce them to the public, and if they do, it’s after the fact.
Marketers and businesses that are late to the mobile party, be warned, you’ve now got just a few months up your sleeve to make sure your mobile offering is up to scratch before the changes take place.
Mobile first world
When you consider Google’s mission is to give the user the most relevant and rewarding search experience, switching to mobile first is a no-brainer. It’s not just about finding the right answers/products/information, it’s about delivering them on the most readable and user friendly format.
Responsively designed websites that have identical content on mobile and desktop are your best bet, as these won’t really be affected by the change. What you need to ensure however is that those pages are serving the most relevant content to both Google and the users. SEMpost.com recommends checking your pages via Fetch & Render in the Google Search Console.
Surely most websites are mobile friendly, right?
According to Portent, we are not, with a staggering “40% of leading websites failed Google’s ‘mobile friendly test’ and be down ranked in search”.
What it means to be mobile friendly
Given that this change will mean preferential treatment is given to those with a mobile-friendly site, you should familiarise yourself with what that actually means in the eyes of Google;
- Your site must have text that’s easily read without having to zoom
- Easy use of links for the decreased accuracy of fingers vs. a curser
- Text that requires no horizontal scrolling
- Using applications that aren’t compatible with all mobiles, like Flash
When will the change take affect?
At present, there is no set date, but a Google blog post explaining more detail and expected date of activation is expected to be published shortly. Many sources are reporting that it will at least a few months away.
What you need to think about
There are numerous technical and user experience ducks to get in a row in order to be prepared for the update. Many developers and marketers remove certain technical traits like structured data and links in order to their mobile site faster or more user friendly, but these aspects will need to be revisited as they provide significant SEO benefit.
Now more than ever, you need to be focussed on delivering an exceptional mobile browsing experience for both Google, and your prospective customers/visitors. If you’re worried about how your site’s SEO will be affected by the coming changes, or just want to get ahead of the pack with, get in touch with Reef today.