Google’s much anticipated “Mobile-First Index” is almost here and now is the time to get ready. It is going to revolutionize the way your website ranks, through a simple Google search.
To be prepared, there are a few simple steps you should take to improve your website in the lead up.
What is Google Mobile-First Index is going to do?
Google currently assesses your website from a desktop or laptop browser point of view.
But when you do search something, how often do you do so through a desktop? Probably not so often! The rise of mobile has seen an estimated average of 60% of searches being conducted through mobile.
That means, that searches through these devices account for the largest portion of the total number of searches. Google is responding to this trend (as it does with most trends!) The Mobile-First Index is going to allow Google to perceive websites through a mobile perspective- and in turn rank listings according to this.
What if your website only has a desktop version?
Google will still look at your website from a mobile point of view, but this will not be optimised for user experience. In some cases, mobile versions have less web content than desktop versions, especially when it comes to older websites. Google’s Mobile-First Index will limit searches to compatible mobile content only. In addition, your site speed will dramatically affect the mobile indexing and therefore compromise on rankings.
What should be done to welcome Google Mobile-First Index?
There are 3 simple things to consider as a starting point:
Firstly, test whether the website is a responsive site. If it is not a responsive site, shift to one as soon as you can! This is important now, not only with the arrival of Google indexing, and your competitors are probably already on board.
A responsive site adjusts its content according to the device. Opening on a computer, or opening on an Android smartphone, may display different content (on purpose). This means content is effectively fit to screen, information is according to context, calls to action are clear and most importantly, users are given access to the data they require.
Secondly, assess your site speed and ensure it is at an acceptable level to respond to mobile indexing. Even if you have a responsive site and all other technicalities are in place, low site speed affects your mobile index ranking and user experience.
To test the speed of your website, you can simply enter your URL into Google’s speed test through your mobile device: https://testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com/
This test can be conducted using 3G or 4G networks, or via wifi connection. An extensive report is then generated, assessing codes, text readability, industry benchmarks and more- usually based on a 3G connection. This also assesses the estimated rate of site visitors that may be lost due to the loading time. Google calculates that most websites lose half their visitors while the site is loading.
Finally and most importantly, optimise your mobile user experience. Test all the changes that have been made to your website by using your smartphone. Google Analytics is also a great tool to gain insight into site visitors- such as information on what pages are the highest performing, average time spent on site and average bounce rate. This information will also help in determining the impact of the changes and what features and functionality should be given more/less attention.