What is the Mobile First Index and how should you manage SEO for your website?
What is the Mobile First Index?
The Mobile First Index is a new way of ranking search listings on Google which was announced in 2016 as an experiment surrounding the way in which web content is indexed, ranking mobile version listings first. Mobile first indexing means that broadly speaking, Google will prioritise the experience of mobile users over desktop users. Mobile first index, therefore, has a huge impact on SEO. This does not mean that the desktop version of a website will not be highlighted, but that Google's spiders will track the mobile sites first and will determine the ranking according to this version.
These changes are already happening in 2018, with some websites that Google has already taken into account for this new way of indexing content. As always, Google's aim is for users of the search engine to achieve the results that they are looking for in the most useful way possible.
What should we do to optimise our website for Mobile first?
To start with, if your website is responsive and it is optimised for mobile devices with the same version for desktops and mobiles, in principle you should not have to worry too much if your positions in the ranking are where you want them to be.
- Loading speed
However, on 17 January Google announced on its official news page that in July 2018 page loading speed would become a factor affecting the ranking for mobile searches. On this basis, it is important for you to review the speed of your website on mobile devices before this date (you can review it using the Page Speed Insights tool). You can also use the help of a web programmer to get a step ahead of this change in Google's algorithm.
- Structured data
In addition, it is advisable that you take into account the status of your structured data, and maybe start to consider whether you have the resources available to introduce Rich snippets on your website. Google takes into account the existence of this structured data and whether it is free from errors.
- Mobile version
If your page has a different version for mobile devices, there are various recommendations to be considered:
- Hreflangs: Check that the URLs of mobile versions with hreflang tags refer to their mobile version equivalent and not the desktop version.
- Search Console: Verify both versions in Search Console if only the desktop version has been verified.
- Sitemaps and robots: Do not forget to check that the sitemap is correctly set up for the mobile version, as well as the robots meta tags and the robots.txt file.
Elements that support the Mobile strategy
This is the time to boost your business' mobile strategy: Consider whether your content meets the needs of your target audience and whether you are answering their queries. Mobile devices have certain particular features as regards how users use them for searches. To be 100% focused on mobile content, we must think about not only what our audience hopes to find, but in what format they want it (text, image or video) and that it must have a simple, structured and attractive design. The title increases in importance on the basis that the screen size is smaller, and if the images are labelled well this can be a way of gaining organic rankings.
Each web page will have to be studied according to the characteristics of its sector. What is clear is that Google will increasingly favour websites that are better optimised for mobile devices.
If you need to audit your website or if you want to prepare your page to improve your ranking, please contact our team, and we will be happy to help.