Recently Google announced a change to website indexing which will eventually affect all websites. The change is called mobile-first indexing and will begin to emphasize mobile versions of websites, as opposed to using the desktop version of a page’s content for their crawling, indexing and ranking systems.
Why is Google making this change? With more than half of all internet traffic now coming from mobile users, Google felt it was appropriate to accommodate this trend. To do this, Google will be modifying their algorithms to more heavily weigh the mobile versions of websites.
It should be noted that mobile-first indexing is still in early stages of testing and there is a lot of ambiguity in how much and when the mobile experience will affect rankings. Luckily, Google understands the difficulties of this change. As stated in their December 2017 blog, it is being gradually applied to websites that Google thinks will be less affected.
“We continue to be cautious with rolling out mobile-first indexing. We believe taking this slowly will help webmasters get their sites ready for mobile users, and because of that, we currently don’t have a timeline for when it’s going to be completed.”
How do you prepare for the change? With the advent of mobile-first indexing it is has become important that websites provide a positive experience for their mobile users in order to keep search rankings high. The best approach is to implement a responsive website. A responsive site is one that detects the visitors screen size and orientation then changes its layout accordingly.
Some other SEO best practices to help keep your website on the top of Google’s search results include:
- Content– verify your high-quality content is identical between your desktop and mobile sites
- Meta Data– Be certain all main headings, alt tags and meta descriptions are identical on both sites
- Internal Links– If your internal links on your mobile site do not match the desktop site it could negatively affect your rankings
- Page Speed– Page speed is extremely important and only becoming more and more of a factor towards site rankings. The quicker your site loads, the higher your ranking. Use Googles Page Speed Insights Tool to debunk any issues
- Structured Data – To be sure your structured data is identical throughout sites use Googles Structured Data Testing Tool
- Servers- be sure your server’s capacity can handle the potential increase in crawl rate on the mobile version of your site