Just over a month ago, Google announced that they are pushing back their plan to enable mobile-first indexing from September 2020 to March 2021.
So why is this all important?
- 91% of people in Australia own a smartphone device; smartphone penetration has grown from 76% to 91% over the past six years.
- Nationally, mobile searches account for 51.33% of all Google searches as of August 2020.
- Google currently holds approximately 93.87% of market share for mobile searches and 70.38% for desktop searches.
These statistics not only highlight the increased presence of mobile search, but also the importance of it in relation to Google. While Google can’t force a business to move to a mobile-first website, they’re going to penalise websites that don’t factor this into their site structure, it’s beneficial for the user after all. Essentially, if companies don’t get onboard they run the risk of falling behind.
What Is Mobile-First Indexing?
Mobile-first indexing means that the mobile version of your website becomes the starting point for what Google includes in their index, and the baseline for how they determine organic search engine rankings. It is therefore more important than ever that businesses prepare for mobile-first indexing to ensure SEO performance is maximized.
One common misconception about mobile-first indexing is the confusion between mobile usability and mobile-first indexing, even though Google classifies these as two completely separate concepts. For instance, a website could be heavily inept in terms of mobile usability, however for a search engine like Google this doesn’t exclude it from the mobile-first indexing SERP. The only thing that this would mean is that the page itself would perform very poorly in the overall rankings as it isn’t “mobile friendly” and even if users did go to the site, they would most likely leave pretty quickly. Mobile usability does however play a key role in mobile-first indexing as it allows for positive user experiences with the site, which in turn can be a positive ranking factor with Google.
Mobile Indexing Best Practices
Google has provided a number of tips for best practices arounds mobile indexing, with key highlights provided below:
1. Make sure that the Googlebot can effectively crawl and render your site’s content:
- Use the same meta tags and URLs between your desktop and mobile site.
- Make sure lazy loading is implemented and can be seen by the Googlebot.
2. Content, structured data & metadata should match across mobile & desktop devices:
- Content should match to avoid any disconnects between devices, and still provide an optimal user experience.
- Structured data or schema markup allows for search engines to gain a better understanding of the data you are presenting and should highlight the same key information regardless of whether it is a mobile or desktop site.
- Meta data such as meta titles and descriptions should also be equivalent on both versions of the site.
It is also recommended businesses undertake mobile parity audits to confirm there are no issues and make sure no important information is missed when comparing their mobile site to their desktop one.
3. Check visual content (Imagery & Videos):
- Use high quality imagery and videos to ensure optimal user experience on the mobile site.
- Visual content should be laid out in a manner allowing for the user to engage with it, without feeling overwhelmed. It should also not have a negative effect on the performance of the site i.e., slow site loading time.
- Descriptive titles, captions and alt texts for both mobile and desktop sites should match. This is to make sure that the mobile site will perform at its optimal in the SERP.
5. Optimum mobile user experience:
- All businesses should make sure their mobile website is working as effectively as possible. This not only means usability, but also being visually appealing and offering relevant content in an easy to digest manner across both mobile and desktop.
With Google’s plan for Search temporarily delayed it is now the perfect time for businesses to finish preparing their website for mobile-first indexing. Contact the team at Redline Digital today to find out how your website can be prepared for mobile-first indexing.