UPDATE: Things happen quickly on the internet; I had been predicting this since the first announcement that Google had to implement AI, aka Rank Brain (why would they call it rank brain if it wasn’t going to be used as their new algorithm). So here is some info on the shift to AI. I will post on Google’s change to AI as soon as I return from the NAB 2018.
I will also announce my new involvement and our SEO Company with the W3C concerning some of the recent privacy changes underway that will positively affect how we can improve internet advertising and implement new, better, and safer strategies. Here is some information on what we will be doing at the Web Advertising Business Group. Great news for SEO Inc clients as we will be the first agency to adopt the changes. Again SEO Inc is paving the way as the leader in Internet Marketing and has been for over 20 years!
Now, this is old news!
The fact that Google is working toward a mobile-first index in its search engine results should be no real surprise. The mobile-first index will pump out mobile versions of web pages rather than the desktop version. Google is changing due to their Consumer Barometer Study that shows mobile internet usage crossed 50% in all 63 countries for the first time. From a user perspective, Google has shared that there are now more mobile device searches than desktops in many countries. This switch will have ranking implications for many websites… so now is the time to ensure you are ready. You can get more info on our Mobile Optimization here.
What is the Mobile-First Index?
Using a desktop-user agent, Google’s index has been based on crawling on both desktop and separate mobile site pages. The index has been built on the desktop versions and ranks web pages differently from mobile website pages based on their desktop equivalents. Google is switching because there are more mobile searchers than desktop searchers.
Why Does it Matter to Me?
Most of your searchers are likely using a mobile device, such as a tablet or a smartphone, to look at your website. This is especially true if you are a restaurant, entertainment, or service-based business that people search for while on the road. Frequent searches include “near me” at the end because people are looking for things already close to where they are. If you’re not ready for this, you could miss out on much foot traffic.
It also matters because if you’re not ready for mobile, you could see a change in your overall ranking since Google made mobile-friendliness a ranking factor back in 2014.
Mobile-First isn’t Mobile Only
Though mobile-compatible pages will likely rank in the index over your desktop pages, it’s worth noting that just because Google is going mobile-first doesn’t mean it is mobile-only. Desktop pages will still be in the index, which means they will be crawled and indexed as they always have been, as long as they aren’t duplicating other pages. The duplicate pages are still filtered out before indexing starts anyway. The pages must always pass Google’s index inclusion quality thresholds, too. If they don’t, Google will pass them over.
Start with the Mobile-Friendly Test
Take a look at your website through the eyes of Google. Use the Mobile-Friendly Test tool to see if your current design is mobile-friendly. All you have to do is enter your URL in the testing tool and get improvement suggestions. If you are already mobile-friendly, you don’t have to do much, but you can still improve speed and usability.
A quick and easy way to get to the Mobile-Friendly Test is to Google “is my website mobile friendly?” and the tool is there right in the search engine results.
Look at the Mobile Usability Report in the Google Search Console
Once you know your site is mobile-friendly, it’s time to look at it in your Google Search Console. Look for the Mobile Usability report.
Make sure to have a responsive design
If you don’t already have a responsive design – that is, a design that automatically adjusts to the device from which the website is visited – you should make the switch as soon as possible. This way, you don’t have to operate desktop and mobile versions of your website. You can make changes once rather than changing both site versions. Many WordPress themes are already responsive today. There are also plugins to make your website responsive if you cannot do a complete makeover of your website with a new article or design.
There’s no real reason to stress the change to the mobile-first index because Google has changed gradually over the past few years. They’ve also stated that the switch shouldn’t cause a dramatic change in your site’s current ranking. You should be fine if you are focused on generating quality content and have your website optimized for speed and responsiveness.
Are you looking forward to the mobile-first index? Why or why not?