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As users continue to use smartphones to search the web, designing mobile-friendly websites has become increasingly important for web developers. In an effort to satisfy the end user and provide searchers with the most relevant results, Google has begun to prioritise mobile-friendly websites. That means ranking them higher in the search results. While mobile-friendly designs are useful and easier to navigate, there’s a bigger and better way to satisfy searcher intent when it comes to mobile browsing: mobile-first indexing.

Mobile-first indexing means that the mobile version will be considered the primary version of your website. In other words, Google will crawl and index your web page based on how well it will display on a mobile device versus a computer. In the past, Google would crawl, index, and rank the desktop version of a page’s content. This would cause user experience issues for mobile searchers as the desktop version would be vastly different from the mobile version. Google now wants to use the mobile version of a page for indexing and ranking to help primarily mobile users find what they’re looking for.

In order to maintain rankings, it’s important to update your website. Starting July 1, 2019, all newly-launched websites will be indexed via mobile-first by default. So if you’re launching a brand new site, Google will index it as mobile-first.

RANKING WITHOUT MOBILE WILL BE DIFFICULT

While you don’t need to already have a mobile site to be included in the mobile-first indexing, your site still needs to be mobile-friendly. If not, it’s going to be hard to rank in the search engines. Google will base all rankings, both mobile and desktop, off of the information it gathers from the mobile crawl. If your site doesn’t render correctly, it can fall out of Google’s index and thus, affect your rankings.

Also, just because you have a mobile-friendly site doesn’t mean that you won’t experience any problems with the update. For example, the mobile version of your site may have different coding for navigation links than desktop links. You could also experience problems if the mobile version of your site is missing internal links.

NON-IDENTICAL CONTENT WILL AFFECT RANKINGS

Your content on both your desktop and mobile sites should be identical. If you have content that is on your desktop site, but not on your mobile site, then you won’t rank for it, even on desktop searches. Make sure your most important content is on the mobile version of your website. As Google moves towards mobile-first indexing, they won’t crawl your desktop site.

“PRIMARY” MOBILE USERS WILL BE BETTER ABLE TO SEARCH THE WEB

The majority of Google users start their searches from mobile devices. To offer the best user experience (UX), Google will make it so that the mobile version of a website would be used to deliver the search results.

DESIGNERS CAN NOW HIDE CONTENT BEHIND TABS

In the past, Google has said that content behind tabs holds less weight in terms of rankings. But with mobile-first indexing, it will be less of a factor going forward. Content behind tabs, accordions, or other methods to clean up the design won’t harm your site. In fact, it can help make a better user experience on smaller, mobile screens.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PREPARE?

There are many things you can do to prepare your website for mobile-first indexing. They include:

  • Keep your mobile site simple.
  • Reduce the number of pages on your site.
  • Use multiple columns for easier viewing on mobile.
  • Add an accessible search feature so users can easily find what they need on smaller devices.
  • Improve page speed.
  • Increase white space to reduce the appearance of clutter.
  • Make sure your call-to-actions are designed mobile-first.

At the Digital Centre, we can help you update your website so that it isn’t affected by the new system. We’ll also change some elements of your website such as speed, design, and user experience, which will help you maintain your rankings. Contact us today to learn more!

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