Is your website ready for mobile-first indexing?
Google's mobile-first indexing algorithm arrives March 2021.
Private: Sam Smith
Digital Marketing Manager
Google’s mobile-first indexing algorithm arrives March 2021.
Google updates are nothing new – it’s estimated that Google make small changes 500-600 times a year – but there is a fairly significant change coming soon that website owners should be aware of.
Thanks to the dominance of smartphone and tablets, Google’s new ranking algorithm – initially planned to launch back in September – will now only consider the mobile version of your website when indexing your website in search results.
It’s no cause for panic as Google has been mobile-first indexing (where it primarily considers your mobile site when determining search engine rankings) for a while now, so most sites won’t be hugely affected. However, from March 2021, content from the desktop version of your website will no longer factor into your site rankings. If your website and its content isn’t optimised to be mobile-first, or if you have a separate mobile site, you might see a drop in your search engine placings.
So, how can you prepare for this new mobile-first indexing system?
Make sure your website is optimised for mobile
If your website was built in the last few years, chances are it will have been built with mobile in mind. The mobile-indexing up is going to be felt most by website that were built specifically for desktop or sites that still use a m. mobile domain. Google offers free tools that scan your website and highlight areas for improvement on mobile, but you can’t go far wrong with checking on your own mobile. Does the website still work as well as it does on mobile? Is information easy to find and process? Can the site be easily navigated?
Think mobile for your content
Short form content works best on mobile, where information needs to fit concisely on a phone screen. Relatively simple things, like keeping headlines short to fit on smaller screens provide a better user experience and help Google determine that your website offers a good user experience on mobile.
Check your site speed
Google offers a free tool to check your site speed, but using your own mobile to check your website will tell you pretty quickly if your site loads too slowly! Things like large image file sizes, video that’s not hosted on an external platform like YouTube, these are all things that can easily slow your website down on all devices. To help your mobile site load quickly, some website designer will replace things like videos on the homepage with a static image so as not to compromise performance.
Put your call-to-action in the right place
If your website isn’t optimised for mobile, you might find your call-to-action button, usually located prominently in your website header on desktop, buried under a mountain of stacked content. Not only is this not great for user experience, Google can recognise this and penalise your site.
Don’t forget your desktop site entirely
While your desktop website won’t be a factor in where you place in Google’s search results anymore, that doesn’t mean you should neglect it entirely. It’s true the more than half of searches now take place on mobile devices, but that still leaves about 48% of searches coming from computers. It’s important to make sure that any changes you make to your website to enhance it’s mobile usability don’t provide a poor user experience for people who are accessing your site form PC or laptop.
If you have any questions about search engine optimisation or want to look at ways to maximise your website traffic, get in touch with the Matrix team.
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