Google’s new mobile-first indexing protocol means that this power-house search engine will now create and rank its search listings based on the mobile version of the content on a website. This switch has been made due to the prevalence of searches coming from mobile devices and Google’s goal to provide these mobile users with the best possible experiences. 

Now, you are likely wondering what this mobile-first approach means for your business. There will not be any negative effect on your rankings, and it is important to note that the mobile-first index is not a separate index. When you are creating a digital marketing strategy you should keep mobile in mind. This is especially true when it comes to your website and its content. 

Below we take a look at everything you need to know about mobile-first indexing. 


What Is Mobile-First Indexing?


Anyone in the digital marketing world worth their hundredth cup of coffee can tell you that having a mobile website is vital. And with mobile-first indexing, Google will look at all mobile websites first when indexing and ranking content for search results. Google implemented this ranking factor to encourage website owners to prioritise mobile-friendliness and user experience

Google will determine by the content on your mobile site how you will rank in their search results. Now, this might sound as though it could have an impact on your current rankings, but for many websites, there will be no change. Almost every website today is designed to be responsive, which means that both mobile devices and desktops will display the same content. 


But…What If I Do Not Have A Mobile Site?


Not having a mobile website does not mean that you will lose all of your hard-earned SEO rankings. It simply means that your desktop version will be crawled and it will continue to be indexed. However, you should not dismiss the importance of having a mobile site.

If you do have a mobile site, then you will need to be sure that all contents and links on this site are similar to or the same as your desktop site so that Google will crawl the proper content and continue to rank your site as it did your desktop version. Having vastly different content will hurt your chances of maintaining your current SEO ranking. 


Test Mobile Usability


While you might not need to have a dedicated mobile site for successful mobile-first indexing, you will need to have a website that is mobile-friendly. If you are not sure whether your desktop website is mobile-friendly, you can perform a mobile usability check using the Search Console by Google. 

This is a free tool offered by Google and it provides a Mobile Usability Checker. It will automatically monitor your website and shows you any issues that are being experienced by mobile users. You will be able to see a timeline of all mobile usability issues and specific pages that are experiencing these issues. This test, however, will not provide you with guidance on how to remedy these problems. 


Figure Out Mobile-Friendliness


Once you have tested for mobile-usability, you should look at fixing the issues to improve your mobile-first indexing results. Google itself has a free tool which you can use called the Mobile-Friendly Test. It is quick, easy, and (best of all) free to use, and once you have entered your website’s URL and clicked “run test” you will receive your results. 

With these results, you will also be shown some tips and advice on how to fix the issues. You might find issues such as some text being too small for a mobile screen, clickable elements having too little space between them, or images loading too slowly. Having advice from Google itself will help to ensure your mobile site will be indexed correctly and will maintain your current ranking. 


Make Meta-Data A Priority


Mobile-first indexing will rely heavily on the meta-data that you have and provide on your website. This information tells Google what a webpage is about and it tells crawlers how to index and rank your website. Without this vital information, your website will become invisible to Google and to other search engines. 

The meta-data that you will need to prioritise and optimise on your website includes keywords, page titles, meta descriptions, and the alt-text for those images. This will enable Google to see that your website has been optimised and that it can be indexed for mobile. Some websites are already optimised but it is up to you to check on this and update it as needs be. 

If you would like a responsive and mobile-friendly website, contact NetMechanic today to find out how we can help you.