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Everything You Need To Know About Google’s Mobile-First Index


In November of last year, Google announced that it had started rolling out its mobile-first index. The search engine giant will continue to do so over time, onboarding an increasing number of users as confidence is gained and debugging is performed. Once it’s fully vetted, that mobile first index will become their primary algorithm. Are you ready?

This change is actually a bit overdue, as more than half of web searches now take place through a mobile app or browser, instead of on a desktop. While those searches are still turning up high quality content, they don’t refine for actual mobile user friendliness - which results in many consumers ending up on websites that are difficult or impossible to read or use on a their device. We don’t have a specific date yet as to when it will be officially fully released, but historically, Google’s algorithm updates have concentrated in Q4, which implies they’re running a little behind normal schedule. We also know that they have a hard deadline of Q3 2017 (the start of the holiday shopping season). In short, it’s only a matter of time before your brand is impacted directly.

If you’re not sure if your brand is ready for this change, don’t worry! We’ve put together a guide for those brands that are motivated to make 2017 their best year yet:

Structured Data

Being diligent about using markup language on your website is incredibly important, and has been an integral part of Google’s crawling algorithms for some time. However, because it can slow down mobile performance, many sites remove it to increase the speed and general user experience.

Google has anticipated this, which is why they’ve issued a recommendation for brands to reinstate structured data back into their mobile websites, or add it if it was never there. Keep in mind that it will be slightly different than desktop browser markup language. You’ll also want to be as efficient as possible in adding markup language - take out extra schemas that aren’t directly relevant to the specific page they are on.

If you’re unsure, ask your SEO advisor, webmaster or IT professional for help! This is a highly technical aspect of mobile search engine optimization, so don’t be afraid to seek assistance if it’s not in your wheelhouse.

Tailoring To Mobile Content Serving

The first rule of mobile content serving is the same as desktop sites - the user experience is paramount. That said, the main details to focus on are:

  • Publish the same content to your mobile site as you do to your desktop site. If you continue to push abbreviated content, Google will penalize it.

  • Expandable content on mobile is okay, as long as it’s done sensibly. If Google’s algorithm detects any black hat SEO attempts, you’ll be penalized, but don’t be afraid to have an expanding menu or accordion folder.

Mobile first indexing is designed to fulfill the same goals as Penguin, and every other update before it: to make it easier for users to find what they’re actually looking for, and discover high quality, valuable content and resources. If you keep the user top of mind, and ensure that any visitor to your mobile site will have a high quality, valuable experience, you’ll likely be on the path to success.

If You Don’t Have A Mobile or Mobile-Friendly Site, Now’s The Time

If a pit of anxiety has formed in your stomach as you read this because you don’t have a mobile or mobile-friendly website, I’m here to tell you right here, right now, is the time to invest in one. Not only will your main site not rank well when valuable customers and leads are searching for your keywords, but your site will also rank lower in normal desktop searches. Think of this as Google telling you that it’s time to make the leap to mobile, no matter your business or industry.

Feeling overwhelmed? Not sure where to start? We’re here to help - reach out to us today and to ensure that every consumer who would become a customer in 2017, does. EndFragment

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