From the way we entertain ourselves on our daily commute, to the way we search, our daily lives are turning more and more mobile. Each and every day, more and more people pick up their smartphones to type out a quick search and as a result, the volume of mobile search users has skyrocketed from 133.6million in 2015, to a predicted 215.8 billion by 2019. While this is just a prediction in terms of numbers, we just have to take a look around to see just how many of us use our phones for search and Google has caught on too.
Mobile-first indexing was introduced to put an increasing focus on websites that were optimised for mobile use, as this was quickly becoming the method of choice for smartphone users across the world. The question is, what does mobile-first indexing mean for businesses that rely on their online presence every day? We’re exploring deeper, below.
Number of Mobile Search Users in the United States from 2014 to 2020. Source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/368746/us-mobile-search-users/
What Is Mobile First Indexing?
The name given to this algorithm change is arguably self explanatory – mobile comes first in indexing. Google’s ranking and indexing system is notorious for going through major changes on a near-yearly basis, if not more so, but this one has changed up how businesses have worked completely. From retailers having to adopt brand new payment technologies, to the spread of various financial activity services providing numerous benefits on mobile, both common and more niche markets have had to pay attention.
Through mobile-first indexing, Google first crawls the mobile version of a site to decide where it will rank within the SERPs. Mobile has become the base from which Google will decide the index position. However, while Google will use this as a starting point, it doesn’t mean that companies without a mobile site won’t be indexed.
Desktop-optimised sites that are high quality and authoritative may still rank highly, but could see a drop in their overall position due to the lack of mobile-friendly, and therefore user-friendly, interface. With a huge focus on user experience (UX) quickly growing in every industry, there’s no excuse not to start changing up your website.
What Does This Mean For Desktop?
Most sites would’ve seen a wobble in their rankings in September of 2018, but how well prepared these companies were will ultimately decide whether this was just a slight shake, or a drastic difference. Sites that are focusing on their desktop version may have seen a drop in their ranking, but those who have been nurturing their mobile site and optimising it ready for the big change may very well have seen a rise, or at least a stable position.
For this reason, desktop sites could be suffering. While they won’t fall off the face of Google completely, they aren’t likely to be ranked highly on either desktop or mobile. Having a mobile-friendly site gives a business ‘bonus points’ in terms of their ranking and given the sheer competitive nature of SEO today, these points are valuable.
What Should Businesses Do To Adapt?
So, your business needs to optimise for mobile – but how do you do that? Thankfully, this is relatively simple and we’ve listed just a few places to start:
The design of your site is everything. If your mobile is trying to squeeze a cached version of your desktop site onto a smartphone screen, Google’s usability score isn’t going to be particularly high. Redesign your site; adapt the link journey, the size of images and buttons on your mobile version and try and keep fonts relatively small, but large enough to read comfortably. Without considering Google, having a well-designed mobile site will also provide businesses with the perfect opportunity to capture the attention of their audience and turn those leads into conversions. A well-designed, easy-to-use and aesthetically pleasing website is more likely to capture attention and reduce bounce rate.
On a similar strain, the speed of your website needs to be a key focus for any business. Nowadays, it’s predicted that consumers expect a site to load in as little as 2-3 seconds and if they are disappointed, are likely to click away before ever exploring the content on offer. Google offer a tool for quick checks so you can find out just how fast your site is and the likelihood that someone will click away due to the estimated speed.
Mobile content needs to be clear, concise, but most importantly, an appropriate length to be displayed on mobile. Casual users aren’t likely to want to read thousands upon thousands of words of content on their mobile device, and as a result, it’s important to keep your content ‘to the point’. If you can say what you want to say in 1000 words in just 400, it could benefit your site greatly if you cut this down. Additionally, businesses need to take into account the Google Quality Rating guidelines to ensure that each and every word portrays expertise, authority and trustworthiness.
While there is plenty more that you could do to enhance your site’s chances on mobile, ensuring that the design, speed and content are kept to the highest quality will help you gain and maintain a high mobile ranking. Millions of users are turning to mobile search every year, and it’s a huge chunk of the market that businesses could be missing out on without capitalising on this effectively. Where will your site start?