Mobile First Indexing By Google: All You Need To Know
Are you ready for mobile SEO? There’s been plenty of notice given to website owners, as Google first announced that it would begin mobile first indexing in March 2018. By 1 July 2019, the search engine was ready to switch its default indexing for new websites to mobile first. This was then followed with a further announcement in March 2020 stating that mobile first indexing would be rolled out across the whole of the World Wide Web for all websites from September 2020, with sites being moved to mobile first indexing as and when its systems recognised that each one was ready.
The September deadline was subsequently pushed back to March 2021 in the light of the pandemic. But from March of this year, Google has begun to roll out a 100% mobile first indexing update. And that means that desktop versions of websites will be ranked by mobile first standards. If you haven’t already considered mobile site SEO issues, now is the time.
Why Mobile First Indexing?
We’ve seen a dramatic shift in recent years in the way people use the internet and the tools they use to access it. When SEO was a relatively new beast, individuals primarily searched the internet on a desktop PC or a laptop. Now mobile search SEO is becoming increasingly important as phones are becoming ever more prevalent and sophisticated, and we are almost completely reliant on them to provide information, entertainment and shopping opportunities. Mobile indexing by Google recognises the fact that the majority of people now search the net via their mobile devices. Google wants to make searchers’ digital lives as easy as possible, so it rewards websites that provide a great user experience to its own customer base.
In short, mobile versions of sites will now rank more highly in search engine results than those that are best viewed on a desktop. And increasingly, as the latest update is rolled out, desktop versions will start to be ignored completely.
What does that mean for you? Well, worst case scenario – if you don’t have a mobile friendly version of your website or your existing version doesn’t cater adequately to mobile users, you could find your organic traffic plummet drastically, or even disappear altogether. In these trying economic times, that kind of effect could destroy your business. So if you want to boost website ranking on mobile devices, it’s in your interests to make sure your website is ready for the change.
How To Ensure You’re Ready For Mobile First Indexing In 2021
So what do you need to do to make sure you and your website don’t get left behind? The first major thing to check in terms of mobile SEO optimisation is that you have implemented a responsive web design. You or your SEO agency should ensure that your website appears identically, or at least in optimised condition, across all devices on which that might be used. And if that means rebuilding your website from scratch, then it’s a price worth paying.
Because once you have implemented a responsive design, you’ll join the growing majority of site owners – now standing at well over 70% – that no longer have to create and maintain different versions of their websites. You may choose to make life easier for your mobile viewers by truncating the content that appears on each page and using a “Read More” or “Expand” button they can use to see the fuller version of the information you post. But it is no longer worth losing that extra content entirely for mobile users. Doing this is only likely to harm your mobile website SEO, provided your content is informative and engaging, that is.
The next important task is to ensure that Google’s indexing tool can access and crawl all relevant areas of your website. If it can’t be indexed, it won’t rank, so to enhance website ranking on mobile, you must make certain it’s all visible to the search engine. You can check what’s being seen by Google and what’s not by checking the Coverage report in Google Search Console. Head to the Index tab, then click on Coverage. The Valid number is the number of pages that are being indexed.
You can then ascertain whether particular pages are being accessed by using the URL Inspection tool. Paste your URL into the tool and if it’s indexed, you’ll get the message “URL is on Google”. So what if it’s not? Then it’s time to get technical. Mobile SEO techniques to implement here include checking your robots.txt file for Disallow rules; clearing any “noindex, nofollow” tags; making sure Google can view content that requires users to load it by clicking or swiping (so-called “lazy loading”); and checking the page is included in your sitemap. These are just a few of the reasons why Google may not be indexing certain pages.
If you’re maintaining both a mobile and a desktop version of your site, you need to ensure that elements such as your structured data and metadata are consistent across the two. You should also check how any advertisements appear on the mobile version – what takes up a relatively small space on a desktop page when viewed can completely overwhelm the screen on a mobile device, and that does your mobile visitors no favours. Likewise, videos and how they’re presented, labelled and loaded may have to be adjusted to improve your mobile usability SEO, so they’re processed and indexed properly by the search engine; and easy to access and view by the end-user.
Another vital action is to test photos, images and other visual content to make sure they look as good on mobile as they do on desktop. Add any missing alt-text to ensure Google can understand the actual context of the images present in your web pages in both mobile and desktop versions. Google suggests you check the source code for “img” tags to establish whether your mobile pages have the correct alt-attributes.
Uncertain Where To Start? Access Affordable, Expert Help
All the information you need to know to ensure a website ranking improvement on mobile indexing can be found in Google’s own mobile-first indexing best practices. But if you’re having problems getting your head around the finer technical detail in this guide, don’t have the time or resources to implement the necessary changes, or are simply left bewildered by the whole thing, you need a reliable provider of SEO services. You need Position1SEO. Our friendly, experienced team can audit the current position of your website, tell you where changes need to be made and come up with a realistic, affordable strategy to ensure you don’t lose out when it comes to mobile-first indexing. Call us today to find out more.