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Is your website ready for mobile-first indexing?

2 June, 2023 · 5 min read·Website design
Is your website ready for mobile-first indexing?
"Is your website prepared for the shift towards mobile-first indexing? Learn what it is, why it matters, and how to ensure your site meets Google's requirements in our latest blog post."

Mobile-first indexing is a crucial aspect of SEO and website design that can no longer be ignored. More and more people access the internet via their mobile devices. That’s why it’s essential that websites are optimized for mobile-first indexing. This shift has significant implications for web developers, business owners, and digital marketers as it affects website ranking and visibility on search engines, especially on Google's mobile search results.

Google first announced the concept of mobile-first indexing back in 2016. This signaled a fundamental shift in how it indexes web content. With the rapid rise in mobile internet use, Google recognized that it had to adapt, and mobile-first indexing emerged as its solution. The search engine company then made a further announcement in September 2020: it had completed the roll-out of mobile-first indexing for the entire web. 

Underlining how significant this development is for website owners and SEO strategists who want to rank higher on Google search results. Read on to discover what you need to consider when optimizing your websites for the best results.

Mobile-first indexing

Mobile-first indexing is a new approach that Google uses to crawl and index websites. So how does it work? This means Google predominantly uses the mobile version of a website for indexing and ranking in search results, rather than the desktop version.

Why is it important?

The majority of internet users now use mobile devices. That’s why website owners need to make sure their websites are mobile-friendly. With mobile-first indexing, website owners need to ensure their mobile version is optimized for search engines. Mobile-friendly websites will rank higher on search results pages. Those that are not mobile-friendly will rank lower.

Google's announcement in September 2020

In September 2020, Google announced that they would be implementing mobile-first indexing for the entire web by March 2021. This means that Google will no longer index websites that don’t have a mobile-friendly version. Website owners need to be prepared for this change and ensure they are optimized for mobile-first indexing, or risk losing out on organic traffic from mobile users.

Understanding mobile-first indexing

How mobile-first indexing affects your website

Mobile-first indexing could affect your website's ranking significantly, as Google is now prioritizing mobile pages for indexing and ranking. Let’s say your website doesn’t have a mobile version. Or it may have functionality or content gaps in its mobile version. Then there’s a high possibility that your website's ranking will deteriorate. That’s why website owners must make their website mobile-friendly. This to ensure that their website is indexed by Google for both mobile and desktop users.

Ranking factors considered in mobile-first indexing

The ranking factors weighed under mobile-first indexing are similar to those for desktop ranking. However, there are a few additional factors that are given more importance for mobile-first indexing. These include page speed, responsive design, and user experience. The way a website renders on mobile devices is also closely watched, such as the layout, font size, button size, and other elements that impact the website's usability on mobile devices.

Mobile-friendly websites vs. non-mobile-friendly websites

Mobile-friendly websites will perform better in mobile-first indexing and thus rank more favorably. A mobile-friendly website is designed to display optimally on mobile devices and adjust its layout based on the device used. On the other hand, non-mobile-friendly websites may face ranking issues. Why? Because they’re not optimized for mobile devices. Such websites usually require more effort and additional resources to be adapted to mobile and might compromise on user experience. Hence, website owners need to ensure their website is mobile-friendly and supports mobile-first indexing.

Testing your website

So how to ensure your website is ready for mobile-first indexing? The answer: you must test its mobile-friendliness. 

How to test if your website is mobile-friendly

Test if your website is mobile-friendly by viewing it on different mobile devices. If it looks and functions well on both iOS and Android devices in different sizes, chances are it is mobile-friendly. You can also use Google's Mobile-Friendly Test tool. Through it, you can see how your website performs on mobile devices.

How to check if your URL is on Google's mobile search results

How do you check if your website's URL is being shown in Google's mobile search results? You can use the "site:" operator followed by your website's URL. This will show you all the pages on your website that Google has indexed for mobile devices.

Using Google's tool to test mobile-friendliness

Google's Mobile-Friendly Test tool is a helpful tool. It assesses if your website is mobile-friendly. To use it, enter your website's URL into the tool. It will then provide you with a report. This lets you know how your website performs on mobile devices. The report includes information on loading speed, usability, and other factors that are taken into account when ranking websites for mobile-first indexing.

Indexing test

You can also test your website's mobile-friendliness by conducting an indexing test using Google Search Console. This will allow you to see if Google can crawl and index your website's pages on mobile devices. Picture this: you find that your website is not being indexed for mobile devices. Then you may need to make some changes to your website. This is so you can optimize it for mobile-first indexing.

Optimizing your website for mobile-first indexing

Mobile-first indexing is taking over. You must optimize your website to rank high on Google's mobile search results. 

Best practices for mobile SEO

Keep some best practices in mind when optimizing your site. For instance, you need to design your website for mobile. You must optimize the page speed and use images properly. Responsive design is important, where your website adjusts to fit the device and screen size it's being viewed on. Load speed plays a crucial role in improving user experience on mobile. Additionally, optimizing images for mobile devices can reduce the load time while improving the overall user experience.

Differentiating desktop and mobile versions of your website

Your website should provide a consistent user experience across devices. However, it's important that you have desktop and mobile versions of your website. Design your website specifically for mobile screens, and ensure that it is easy to navigate and interact with even on a smaller screen.

You can also take advantage of mobile-specific design elements. These include click-to-call buttons and mobile-specific features such as geolocation. These will come in handy, especially if you have a local business. At the same time, ensure that the desktop website is still available and provides complete functionality. This is because some users may still prefer to access your website from a desktop computer.

Adapting to the mobile-first index

Adapting to the mobile-first index involves building a responsive website that caters to mobile audiences. This involves creating high-quality and relevant content for the mobile user by avoiding pop-ups, investing in mobile SEO, using short paragraphs with appropriate call to action, optimizing page loading speed, and upgrading to HTTPS.

Requesting a mobile site on Chrome

To optimize your website for mobile-first indexing, you need to ensure that your site performs well on mobile devices. 

Step-by-step guide

To request a mobile site on Chrome, follow the steps below.

  1. Open the Chrome browser. Do this on your mobile device.
  2. Navigate to the website you want to view in mobile format.
  3. Tap the three-dot icon. You can find this in the browser’s top right corner.
  4. From the dropdown menu, select "Request Mobile Site."
  5. The website should now display in mobile format.

Requesting a mobile site on Chrome allows you to easily see how your website appears on a mobile device. This lets you identify any issues with the mobile version of your site.

Best practices for mobile SEO

When designing and optimizing your website for mobile-first indexing, it's important to keep mobile SEO best practices in mind. 

  • Mobile-friendly design
  • Fast page load times
  • Easy navigation
  • High-quality, mobile-optimized content
  • Responsive design that adapts to different screen sizes

To stay ahead of the game with mobile-first indexing, continue to monitor your site's performance and make necessary improvements. This can also improve your overall search engine ranking.

Next steps

Google's mobile-first indexing has been in full effect since March 2021 and is here to stay. To stay ahead, website owners must prioritize mobile optimization on their sites. Continuously check if your website is mobile-friendly. Additionally, update your site with the latest mobile-friendly best practices. This will ensure you stay in line with Google's new algorithm.

Get a mobile-friendly website with B12

Mobile-first indexing is a significant change in how Google ranks websites. It signals that businesses should take mobile optimization seriously and prioritize it in their digital marketing strategy. Test your website, optimize it for mobile, and stay current with best practices. By doing so, your website will be set up for success in a mobile-first world. 

At B12, we can help you set up a professional website that looks great on every device, including mobile. Work with our web designers, copywriters, and SEO specialists to design a site that reflects your branding and offers a seamless user experience. Get started launching yours today with a free 60-second draft.

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