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How to get website ready for mobile-first indexing

You probably already know that Google uses a bot to crawl your website as if they were a real visitor. This process is called indexing and is how they gather knowledge to rank your website. At the moment, Google surfs your site as a desktop user. However, they are currently working on a bot that will surf your site as a mobile user instead. What this means is that Google search engine results will soon rank websites based on the mobile version. To help you get website ready, we’ve taken a look at mobile-first indexing and what it means for your website.

Why?

The main reason Google is switching to a mobile-first index is that, nowadays, more people use mobile devices than desktop. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that Google’s bot should crawl pages as a mobile user. If you do not have a responsive website, don’t worry. The Google bot will still crawl the desktop version of your website, but it will use a mobile user agent. This news means that your site will still be indexed. Nevertheless, if you want to take full advantage of mobile-first indexing then format your website to suit any device type.

Content

With desktop websites, content hidden in tabs, accordions, expandable boxes and so on are not weighted as high. However, when it comes to mobile, content like this will be given full weight. The reason for this is that if your site format is hostile to mobile users, then you will lose ranking. Therefore, these techniques are utilised for a better user experience on mobile. Having said that, if you know the mobile version of your website has less content than the desktop version, look to add in those missing details. Ultimately, to gain the best search engine optimisation (SEO) for your site, start with optimising it for a mobile audience.

Usability

Google Search Console is a great tool to help you seek out pages that have smartphone crawl errors or mobile usability issues. Utilising this information, you can clear up problems and improve the user experience on your website. Google also has a Mobile-Friendly Test that tells you whether or not a specific page is mobile-friendly. This test is great if you do not have the time to conduct a site-wide check. Google has yet to announce when the mobile-first indexing will be released. Therefore, use the time and tools available to make sure your website is ready to go.

Speed

Google already counts page speed when ranking a page, and this will be just as important with mobile-first indexing. To check if this is an issue for your mobile site, test your site in Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool. If your site is not loading in around three seconds, look into the reasons why. PageSpeed Insights will provide a report with recommendations on how to resolve any issues. These issues can often be fixed by doing things like compressing image size and so on. Addressing these issues is important because people have come to expect web pages to load quickly. Consequently, they will likely leave a page if it takes too long to load.

Mobile indexing is going to change the way Google ranks sites significantly. To ensure you are not negatively impacted, make sure the user experience of your website is similar across all platforms. Because there’s no set date for the rollout of indexing yet, you still have time to get your website ready. Nonetheless, since there is so much traffic through mobile platforms, get on the bandwagon sooner rather than later.

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