How Mobile-First Indexing Works: an Outline of Google’s Expectations
Over the past several years, more and more people use their mobile devices to access information on a daily basis. In fact, the number of people who regularly use search engines like Google from their mobile devices has surpassed the number of people who use standard desktop and laptop computers.
Because of this, Google (and other search engines) have had to adapt. One of Google’s biggest reforms over the past few years is the embrace of mobile responsive design and mobile-first indexing. Essentially, select results are filtered to include mobile-friendly websites; if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, then you are likely losing out on a lot of traffic.
Let’s look at how mobile-first indexing works and what Google expects in the present day.
2021: a Landmark Year
Over the past five years, Google has been gradually unrolling mobile-first indexing to more and more sites, attempting to ensure that brands, blogs and businesses catch up to the new reality. It was approximately five years ago that the number of mobile searches via Google first surpassed the number of desktop-based searches, so these changes shouldn’t be too surprising to those who have been following the trends.
In March 2021, Google will implement the final stage of mobile-first indexing: a 100 percent application of its indexing procedure. This means that if your website isn’t up to par with mobile-friendliness, you will likely experience massive reductions in organic search engine traffic.
To avoid this fate, it is crucial to begin pinging servers with pages and an overall design that accommodates mobile users.
Site Speed Matters
Even if your website is already optimized for mobile audiences in broad strokes, one very vital component still has to be considered: how quickly do your pages load? Site speed is a prime consideration by Google of mobile-friendliness, as mobile devices generally operate with slower speeds (due almost entirely to cellular connections for smartphones) than traditional and/or wired devices.
While not an absolute rule, optimizing various pages and elements of your website to ensure that pages load on most mobile devices within 2 seconds (that are using 5G connections) is a good rule of thumb.
What to Do If Your Site Isn’t Mobile-Friendly
Optimizing your website for mobile-first indexing may seem intimidating, but if you want to keep your rankings, then this is a must.
For websites that are completely unprepared, investing in a mobile responsive design is key. This will ensure that your pages are pinging servers and users with the utmost efficiency when they are accessing them from mobile devices.
Next, refinements for navigation, links and content must be made. Ensure that ample access to menus exist on mobile versions of your website – on every page and in as many places as realistically possible. Additionally, optimizing files on each page (such as reducing image and file sizes through compression, embedding mobile-friendly alternatives to videos via platforms like YouTube, etc) should be a top priority.
With 2021 marking the beginning of a new era – an era where all websites will be judged based on their mobile-friendliness in Google results – you cannot afford to disregard these changes. Be sure to embrace this new reality by optimizing your website in the aforementioned ways. From there, you can begin tweaking future marketing, SEO and design efforts to account for these changes.