Mobile-first indexing why it matters to your website
What is Indexing?
Indexing simply means that Google has become aware of your website and has placed into their database. Google does this through a process of sending out it’s robots or “bots” to crawl your website to check it out and see what all it contains. These are the bots that we work so hard to please when we do SEO. They analyze everything and run it through the algorithm to make sure that the website is following it’s best practice and it indexes this information. That way next time someone makes a search on Google the algorithm already knows which sites are following the best practice guideline and pulls them up in the search results.
What’s Mobile-first Indexing and why did it change?
Mobile-first indexing means that now Google will begin to prioritise the content of the mobile version of a website instead of using the content of the traditional desktop full version of a website. This is a huge announcement! Google first announced this back in 2016 in a developers post for mobile sites titled “Prepare for mobile-first indexing”, and later confirmed the the Roll out of mobile-first indexing in March 26, 2016 In this article google announced that:
“Mobile-first indexing means Google will predominantly use the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking. Historically, the index primarily used the desktop version of a page’s content when evaluating the relevance of a page to a user’s query.“
Citing that the majority of users now access Google through a mobile device so they will begin using a smartphone agent. Google knew what it was doing and was preparing for the future back in 2016. According to this stat from Statista for 2018, 52.2% of all website traffic worldwide was generated through a mobile device. You may think to yourself 52.2% is not much of a majority? But if we break it down by continents, Asia saw a jump to 65.1% mobile web access and Africa had 59.5%. So we can see that worldwide the internet is being used less by traditional computer and more by mobile smartphones. We can see this in our daily lives as just about everyone has a smart phone with access to the internet, and they are constantly on it either searching something up or scrolling through a timeline to pass the time. Even the games on our smartphones require internet access.
How does this new indexing method affect my current website?
If you have a separate dedicated mobile version of your website that has different content than your full blown version then you should be concerned. Since you have separate content then you need to make sure right now that it is optimized because this is what the google bots will be crawling and indexing.
Back in the day mobile version websites were small and tended to be light on content. Because smart phones weren’t “as smart”, we had edge/3g internet and it wasn’t very efficient at loading up a website, so shortcuts had to be taken. Now with the smartphones that are basically mini computers, we don’t have to dedicate a lite version of our websites so that they can load them. So if you don’t have a mobile version of your website that is ok. But having a responsive version is very important.
A responsive website means that our full website versions are mobile friendly, this does not mean we have to sacrifice content, but it means that it formats it so that it fits better and has a better layout on a mobile device screen. This is very important because although a full blown website can load on your smartphone, it still isn’t as fast as a computer desktop. So we have to optimize it in order to have it load efficiently and most importantly fast. After all, page loading speed is a factor for Google in SEO and also helps to please visitors to your site. Nobody likes to wait around for a slow website to load, so visitors will exit therefore hurting your bounce rate. Luckily Google helps us and provides us with updated guidelines on what to look for under this new indexing rule and they even provide us with a mobile site speed tester to see if we are ready for this new paradigm. You can test your own website speed by visiting here: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
A Summary of the New Mobile-First Indexing
As of last year mobile-indexing began rolling out more broadly as of 2018. It gives no advantage to rankings and is a separate operation from Google’s mobile-friendly assessment. Since more people are using their mobile devices for the internet it would be best to have a mobile-friendly responsive website, this can only help for mobile search results. Having fast-loading content will always benefit your website visitors. There are lots of ranking factors and being mobile friendly is one of many, so Google may still show content that isn’t mobile friendly and slow loading if other signals are optimized, but it can’t hurt to have your site be mobile friendly knowing that this is the priority for Googlebot indexing.
Have questions on SEO or want a team of professionals to check if your website is ready for mobile-first indexing? Contact your Portland SEO Company and we will gladly answer any questions you may have.