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Is Your Website Ready for Mobile-First SEO Changes?

In November 2016, Google announced it was experimenting with indexing sites using mobile versions instead of desktop versions, as the bulk of traffic is moving to mobile devices. Yesterday, Google said it still is working toward mobile-first indexing, and gave web users some tips to make sure their sites are ready for the full roll-out.

What is mobile-first indexing?

Mobile First IndexUp until recently, Google and other search engines have been crawling only the desktop versions of websites to determine how a site will be ranked. This has caused problems for mobile searchers on mobile where the desktop site content is vastly different from the content on the mobile version.

By implementing mobile-first indexing, Google is saying it’s banking on the increase in mobile traffic to continue (and all signs point to this being the case) and that it wants to make the search experience easier for its mobile users.

Mobile-first indexing is great for users – and businesses.

Why should I be concerned about mobile-first indexing?

In many cases, the mobile version of a website has different content than the desktop version. If your website doesn’t have crucial information – such as the services you offer, or why your product can benefit your customers – on the mobile version, anyone reading your website on a mobile device will be missing out on the information they need to choose your business over another.

If your mobile website lacks this important information, it could cost you business. Making sure your desktop and mobile versions both present the most vital information will help you better serve all your customers, regardless of what device they use to find your website.

What can I do to make sure my site is ready for mobile-first indexing?

If your site already uses responsive web design and correctly employs dynamic serving, you won’t need to do anything.

However, if your site isn’t using these techniques, here are some things Google recommends you do to make sure you’re ready for mobile-first indexing:

  • Check that all pages on the mobile version of your site have high-quality content, including text, images with alt-attributes, and videos. Make sure this content is displayed in crawlable and indexable formats.
  • Make sure you have metadata present on both the mobile and desktop versions of your site. This metadata gives hints to the crawlers about the page’s content, making it easier to index. Match this metadata as closely as possible between your desktop and mobile versions.
  • Check to make sure you have structured data on both your mobile and desktop sites. Make sure the URLs in the structured data are updated to the mobile version on mobile pages.

The above three tips are part of any good business digital marketing strategy – Something we do for our clients on a monthly basis. Google gives more tips for mobile-first indexing here and here.

The full roll-out of mobile-first indexing is still some time away. Google says it will periodically evaluate all sites to find the ones ready for the switch, and sites that aren’t prepared will still be crawled the traditional way.

Responsive Web Design & Digital Marketing Services

Need help transitioning your website in preparation for mobile-first indexing, or want to see if your website is ready for the change? Contact our Web Design and Digital Marketing teams today. We have years of experience positioning business websites to succeed in an ever-changing digital landscape.

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