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The fact that Google is working toward a mobile-first index in their search engine results should come as no real surprise. The mobile first index will pump-out mobile versions of web pages rather than the desktop version. Google is making the change as a result of their Consumer Barometer Study that shows mobile internet usage crossed 50% in all 63 countries covered by the report for the first time. From a user perspective, Google has shared that there are now more searches on mobile devices than desktop in many countries. This switch will have ranking implications for many websites… so now is the time to make sure you are ready you can get more info on our Mobile Optimization here.

What is the Mobile-First Index?

Google’s index has been based on crawling on both desktop and separate mobile site pages using a desktop user-agent. The index has been built on the desktop versions and ranking web pages separate for mobile website pages based on their desktop equivalents. Google is making the switch because there are more mobile searchers than desktop searchers.

Why Does it Matter to Me?

The majority of your searchers are likely using a mobile device such as a tablet or a smartphone to look at your website. This is especially the case if you are a restaurant, entertainment, or service based business that people are searching for while they’re already on the road. Common searches include “near me” at the end because people are looking for things that are already in close proximity to where they are. If you’re not ready for this, you could be missing out on a great deal of foot traffic.

It also matters because if you’re not ready for mobile, then you could see a change in your overall ranking since Google made mobile-friendliness a ranking factor back in 2014.

Mobile-First isn’t Mobile Only

Though it is likely that mobile-compatible pages will rank in the index over your desktop pages, it’s worth noting that just because Google is going mobile-first, doesn’t mean it is mobile-only. Desktop pages will still be in the index, which means they will be crawled and indexed as they always have been, as long as they aren’t duplicative. The duplicate pages are always filtered out before indexing starts anyway. The pages must always pass Google’s index inclusion quality thresholds, too. If they don’t, Google will pass them over.

Start with the Mobile-Friendly Test

Take a look at your website through the eyes of Google. Use the Mobile-Friendly Test tool to see if your current design is mobile-friendly. All you have to do is enter your URL in the testing tool and get suggestions for improvements. If you are already mobile-friendly, you don’t have to do much, but you can still make improvements for speed and usability.

A quick and easy way to get to the Mobile-Friendly Test is to simply Google the phrase “is my website is mobile friendly?” and the tool is there right in the search engine results.

Look at the Mobile Usability Report in the Google Search Console

Once you know your site is mobile-friendly, it’s time to take a look at it in your Google Search Console. Look for the Mobile Usability report.

This is not what you want to see:

Mobile Usability Graph with 5 Page issues in Google Search Console

It’s a good thing if you see this:

Mobile Usability Graph with 0 Page errors in Google Saearch Console

Ultimately, this is what you want:

Mobile Usability in Google Search Console with no errors detected

Make Sure You Have a Responsive Design

If you don’t already have a responsive design – that is a design that automatically adjusts to the device that the website is visited from – you should make the switch as soon as possible. This way, you don’t have to operate a desktop version and a mobile version of your website. You can make changes one time, rather than changing both versions of the site. Many WordPress themes are already responsive today. There are also plugins to make your website responsive, if you’re not in a position where you can do a complete makeover of your website with a new theme or design.

Conclusion

There’s no real reason to stress the change over to the mobile-first index because Google has been making changes gradually over the past few years. They’ve also stated that the switch shouldn’t cause a dramatic change in your site’s current ranking. As long as you are focused on generating quality content and have your site optimized for speed and responsiveness, you should be fine.

Are you looking forward to the mobile-first index? Why or why not?