Earlier in the year (June 2018) Google changed how their indexing algorithm works to be more inline with current trends for people preferring to use their mobile device such as phone or tablet over larger devices such as desktop or laptop with “mobile first indexing”.
Since then many website owners have already have received an email telling them that their website is about to be indexed differently using “Mobile first indexing”.
So what does this mean for your website?
Firstly lets quickly cover what indexing is…. Indexing is the process that search engines undertake to scan your website and rank it in to an index, this index is similar to that of a book, when you search for something on google it checks the words entered against its index to find pages it believes are most relevant based on what you searched for and displays them in the results list.
So what is mobile first indexing?
Mobile first indexing works in a very similar way however google will first look for a mobile friendly version of each of your pages before it searches for desktop versions of the same page.
Depending on your website architecture will determine how this will affect your website and your customers experience.
Firstly if a mobile version of a web page is available google may display the full version in its search results but redirect people to the mobile version of the page.
Secondly it also means if you have a mobile version of your site it needs to be obvious to google that each page is aimed at mobile as opposed to desk top devices and visa versa.
Most modern websites should be responsive this simply means that when viewing a page on a mobile device your websites content will adapt to display clearly on the screen.
Assuming your website is responsive google will take this to be a mobile page and index each page as both mobile and desktop, either way your customers will be directed to the same URL what ever device they are using.
Before responsive websites became the norm about 3-4 years ago some websites where re-developed to include a second (sub site) designed specifically for mobile devices normally these websites would have an address such as m.yourdomain.com or www.yourdomain.com/mobile.
This meant a completely tailored mobile design could be created and normally a separate structure of pages could be employed to make it easier for mobile users to navigate and read your website.
This could cause some problems with your site indexing.
Under the new mobile first indexing system the assumption is that both pages (mobile and desktop) would have the same content, due to the architecture and goal of these websites it is quite common that this is not the case and as a result your customers could be getting redirected to a cut down version of your page that may not have all the information they are looking for.
Secondly if your page has a mobile and a desktop version google will index both and due to the content on the mobile page potentially being smaller the chances are the desktop page may get returned in search results but a user on a mobile will be redirected to the mobile page that may not include the content they have just searched for.
To ensure this is not the case it is advised that all pages with mobile alternatives should contain the same text and images.
The final type of website is desktop only, now google have said that your rank won’t be penalized more due to the mobile first indexing however google have for the past few years given mobile ready websites preference over desktop only websites simply because they want every one to have the best user experience when someone opens a web page from their search results.
That being said as far as this change goes nothing has changed,
In conclusion it would be easy to say that nothing has changed, however over the past 6-7 years the use of smart devices especially mobile phones has increased to the point where some people don’t buy laptops or Desktop PC’s any more as they are simply not needed. Having a website that will fit nicely on their screen will make it easier for your customers to find what they are looking for on your website not to mention contacting you, making purchases or sharing pages with their friends and colleagues.
Whilst the new Mobile first indexing is not a massive game changer (yet) it is bucking an undeniable trend toward people using their mobile devices as the primary method of searching the internet.
If you have any of the below concerns it may be time to make changes to your existing website or possibly look in to getting a new website that will address all of the concerns outlined in this post.
- If your website responsive
- Does your page load quickly on mobile devices
- Does content on mobile devices display properly and legibly
- When on mobile can your customers do everything they can do on desktop
- Are interactive elements on your website easily usable on mobile, are buttons too small or are links too close together
- If you have a mobile site is the content complete