Following the mobile trend, Google has been preparing a new indexation method, focused on mobile devices. Considering the fact most internet traffic, 50% of all traffic to be exact, comes from smartphones and tablets, there is no wonder Google plans to index the mobile versions of the pages first. In order to stay competitive on this mobile market, it is not enough to have a mobile version of your site. It also needs to optimized for mobile.
What is Google Mobile-first index
Google’s Mobile-first indexation plan is going to change the way we create content in the next years, as a normal consequence of the fact we are going mobile. Google is planning to index the mobile version of a site before the desktop version, in order to rank the page and the site. Their goal is to provide the user with the information they need as fast as possible, which should also be a site owner’s main goal.
Mobile friendly vs Mobile optimized
When someone searches for a random term in Google from their mobile device they expect to be given a list of sites containing text and images optimized for their device, so they can read the info ASAP.
Many sites are mobile friendly, which means they can be accessed from a mobile, but the content is still going to be affected. A site that is mobile optimized or mobile responsive is able to adjust to different devices in order to show a responsive, fully optimized version. Common UX issues, such as zooming or pinching, are avoided.
Google prefers mobile responsive sites, because internet users prefer them for their ability to provide what they are looking for. In other words, if you have a mobile-friendly site, you will need help from responsive web design services to make it competitive for the next years.
Instead of adjusting your mobile friendly site, you can also create a new mobile version. But there is a problem with this strategy. First, you will have to monitor and maintain two different entities, which can become problematic at one point, as you have to modify every single post, doubling the amount of work you need to put into it. Metadata is also affected by this strategy, which can also be problematic when it comes to duplicate content regulations.
In order to find out if your site is ready for the change to Google’s mobile-first index, you can test it in the Google Test My Site tool. The tool scans the site, analyzing compression, scripts and mobile usability, based on a 3G network. It returns a compelling report, which can be used to improve your site’s responsiveness on mobile devices.
All in one, Google is following the internet users by switching to a mobile-first indexation. This change is not going to kill desktop sites, but it will improve the mobile user experience. A mobile responsive site is not a background option anymore – it is increasingly important, especially for companies which rely on online sales and inbound traffic. To rank high in the search engine and stay competitive on a mobile market, you need to focus your efforts on mobile traffic, which is the current and future way of browsing the internet.