mobile-first indexing
Chad Crowe of Techwood Consulting provides tips on mobile-first indexing.

One way Google matches people’s search queries with the content they are seeking is by indexing the pages on a website. Indexing happens when Google sends its robots to crawl your site. What the robots find is one factor that affects the placement of your website in search engine results pages. Mobile-first indexing could impact your business and you need to know how to prepare for this change.

The majority of web searches are done on mobile phones,” says Chad Crowe with Atlanta-based Techwood Consulting, a digital consultancy with core competencies in organic and paid search. “Because of this Google has announced that they are going to move to mobile-first indexing. By taking a mobile-first approach, Google’s robots crawl the mobile version of your site first before crawling the desktop version.”

This change is expected to be rolled out this year. Google has already begun testing mobile-first indexing with a limited number of websites. If you use the internet to reach new customers, mobile-first indexing matters to you.

How Mobile-First Indexing Will Affect Your Business

Although Google does not think mobile-first indexing will change search rankings drastically, it does have the potential to impact your business. Depending on your situation you’ll want to make changes to your website to be ready. Consider these scenarios:

  • If your website is responsive – meaning it conforms to the dimensions of smartphone screens – the site content should be equivalent on both the mobile and the desktop versions. You shouldn’t have to worry about making changes.
  • When the desktop version and the mobile version of your site have different content, you should consider making changes to your site to bring them into alignment.
  • Without a mobile site Google will just crawl the desktop version. It’s important to remember that not having a mobile-friendly website may negatively affect where your business shows up in internet searches.

Tips to Help You Prepare for Mobile-first indexing

Crowe recommends doing some work to get ready for this change. Here is his list of tips:

Analyze Your Analytics. If your small business has a website it should be linked to Google Analytics. This is a good time to review the data and determine what percentage of traffic to your website is coming from mobile devices. Look at the trendline and see if mobile traffic to your site has increased significantly over the last year. If so, prepping your site for mobile-first indexing will be a high priority.

Make sure your site is mobile friendly. 77% of people in the U.S. have smartphones so having a mobile friendly site is a must. The pages on a mobile friendly site will load fast and look correct on a smartphone. Make sure the images, text, and videos on the mobile version of your site are crawlable by Google’s bots because the can’t index what they can’t see.

Prioritize mobile for SEO and other digital marketing efforts. Sometimes companies that have a separate mobile version of their site keep the full content on the desktop version and the mobile version thin. Google won’t penalize your site for this. But a priority for your digital marketing plans should be to make sure the mobile site is as robust as the desktop version.

If your site is fully responsive, you should concentrate on user experience (page speed, navigation, design). Taking these steps will help your business be ready for mobile-first indexing and stay visible to consumers in search engine results pages.