Google has just rolled out mobile-first indexing. The search engine and its crawlers had always used desktop sites in their indexing; however, as the number of mobile users grew, Google realized it needed to make a change in order to give users what they’re looking for. Is it time for your business to do the same?
Mobile-first indexing means that Google is going to use the mobile version of sites when it is crawling and indexing search engine results, instead of the desktop version.
In addition to creating a better experience for users, this is also great news for sites that were built to be mobile-responsive. These sites will see their crawl rates increase and the mobile versions of their pages appear in the Google Search results. They may even receive a ranking boost.
As Moz.com stresses, mobile-first doesn’t mean mobile-only. Sites that only have a desktop version will still be crawled. While Google says there will be “no change,” Moz warns that desktop-only sites may see their SEO rankings decrease due to a “lack of a mobile-friendly experience.”
It’s best you look into designing a mobile site now, if not for rankings, then for a better user experience for your customers.
While some businesses don’t have any mobile site, others have two websites: a desktop site and a much smaller mobile site. This practice of hosting two distinct websites can create some issues. The mobile site ends up being overlooked. It lacks content, meta tags, and a friendly interface.
Moz says, “there is no guarantee that [Google] will crawl or index the desktop version once they’ve seen the mobile version.” So, with mobile sites being indexed first, you want to put your best foot forward. There are a few simple ways to do this:
- Include keyword-rich, relevant textual content on your mobile site. Everything you have on your desktop site should be included.
- Add metadata like keywords, descriptions, and titles.
- Don’t hide your sitemap. Your sitemap is the key to Google being able to crawl and index your site. Whether you have a mobile-responsive site or not, make sure your sitemap exists somewhere.
- Use high-resolution images to avoid blurriness or pixelated graphics. Also, make sure to add alt tags. ADA compliance is important, even on mobile.
- Watch your load times. Load time on your mobile site is critical now that crawlers are indexing it first. If it is too slow, the crawlers may time out, causing issues and errors.
What Google and Moz want everyone to know is this: there’s nothing to panic about. However, there are some things to be considerate of, starting with the experience you’re offering your users.
If you don’t have a mobile site, or if you have two separate sites, it’s time to consider a redesign. One single redesigned, mobile-responsive site will be easier to maintain for you, easier for Google to crawl, and easier for your customers to access. Google’s putting mobile first. Now it’s your turn. To learn more about web and mobile design, contact us today.