Mobile-first Indexing: How to Prepare Your Site For Mobile Search

March 26, 2018. The day Google announced it’s going to first start fully practicing mobile-first indexing.

All well and good. But as a business owner, how does your current website fit into this?

What do these words mean and how relevant are they to you and your business?

Do you have to redo the entire thing? Is your developer going to ask you for more money? Should you just abandon all things web and start marketing your business with flyers on the street again just like Grandpa???

The questions are endless and confusing. But this piece attempts to help you understand how your developer will be working on optimising your site.

You might have to do a bit of reading to get up to speed, such as understanding the significance of AMP pages and basic web design structures. But hopefully our information should help clear up your thoughts on heading in a mobile-first indexing zone.

While it is easy to immediately start worrying about how to get your site mobile-friendly, turns out it’s just as easy to get your site prepared for the change.

In this piece we will be covering how mobile-first indexing your website could UP your game, and how it is beneficial to your business.

What is mobile first indexing?

Mobile-first indexing refers to Google’s crawl algorithm that indexes websites that are more mobile friendly. This means that Google checks to see if your site is mobile-friendly first. This does not mean that they entirely skip through your desktop site. It just means that it gives first preference to your mobile version website, and then makes the choice depending on how successful either site is (based on a number of factors).

Image Source: Pexels

Since we live in a day and age where most people access web content through their phone it makes the website more user friendly. Not having to pinch down to see the text comes with its perks. Your website instantly becomes more favourable ranking wise.

How do I get started?

First, check if your website is already compatible by heading to the Google’s Mobile-Friendliness Tool Test. This free resource helps you see if your site if already compatible with the indexing, or will suggest ways on how to improve.

If you make your site with a design that’s responsive, then the indexes automatically set the website in a more user-friendly way by :

  • Scaling images and text to size
  • Minor changes is URL
  • Reducing all clickable elements to be clicked by hands

Another way to get started on improving your website for mobile users is R&D by practice. Pull Out your phone and check what your site looks like right now on a mobile interface. Is it scaling down to size? Are the icons all visible? By looking for yourself, you will be able to pull out the points of improvement so that you can get started on the finer points of your website.

Here are few tips that puts your website in clear on the mobile-friendly scale;

  • Switch to mobile site is not clunky and glitched
  • Attached videos play smoothly
  • The website is crawlable by Google bots
  • Elements of the website are finger-friendly

There are three main steps to take when preparing to improve your website for mobile users:

  1. Optimise For Incoming Traffic
    Improve your content and establish yourself as the leader of the industry (niche you are in) by optimising your content for your users, and improving the interface.
  2. Testing
  3. Constant testing and retesting helps improve your overall website in general. You want to make sure it is smooth and operational at all times for your users.

  4. Consistency
    Maintaining consistency is an important part of maintaining your website traffic. If you keep altering your site interface or content, user ultimately get tired and frustrated with the fluctuations
  5. Stop Popups
    Working with popups on a mobile website can be infuriating. At that scale, the user doesn’t have the space to properly consume that kind of advertisement and interferes with the experience.

What kind of site do you have?
Depending on the kind of site you currently have, you’d have to make a series of changes.

  • If you have a site that has responsive design, while it may be a functional design, there will still be room for improvement. Doing your due diligence when it comes to ensuring that your CSS is optimised for mobile and ensure that there are no errors in terms of functionality in Google Webmaster Tools
  • When working with a dynamically designed website, you might experience more hiccups. Running it through the testing tool will help, but you’ll have to come through manually to spot the possible problem points. Once again, make sure that the site has minimum usability errors
  • When your mobile site and your desktop site has different URLs (this happens when your site has both AMP and non-versions), make sure both sites have same content. The same goes with structured data and meta data. Ensure that both sites have the same data so that processing and indexing becomes easier.

In conclusion, while it may be daunting at first to start understanding what is happening with the transition of your site, it is something that is easy to integrate into, at not that much of an extra cost. Once the site becomes more mobile friendly, the time and money spent into redoing the website end up paying for itself.

To recap:

  • Most users on the internet are using their mobile phones to access your website.
  • It is important for your website to be mobile friendly to make sure visitors and search bots doesn’t find your website clunky and slow.
  • Mobile first indexing doesn’t mean that your original site is not indexed, it just means that your mobile version is indexed first.
  • Check your website on Google’s Mobile-Friendliness Tool to see what you can do to immediately improve your pages’ indexing.
  • Depending on how your website is designed (dynamic, responsive etc.) make the necessary changes and checks to ensure your site is optimised.

The changes won’t take too long to make and you’ll end up keeping your beautiful website, and having it better designed and optimised for the mobile forward generation. To find out more information about mobile-first indexing, Google has plenty of literature that goes in depth to help you understand further.

About Author
Osho is Tech blogger. He contributes to the Blogging, Gadgets, Social Media and Tech News section on TecheHow.

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