For some time now, most Google searches are done through mobile devices as opposed to desktops. Despite this fact, Google’s search index has so far been based on desktop websites, until now. Google has recently announced that they, within the near future, plan to start looking at the content, links and structured data of the mobile versions of websites, rather than desktop versions of websites, to determine ranking among the organic listings in all search results.
How it affects you
Google will base its entire organic search index on, how well websites are optimized for mobile devices instead of desktops. This might have a large impact on how your website ranks in search. With this change, Google will primarily determine indexing based on mobile content, despite of whether the user is performing the search on a desktop or mobile device. If there is no mobile version of your website available, Google will then look at your desktop version. However, its ranking will be heavily influenced by how it performs for mobile users, which is not a good thing for most desktop version websites. In short, this means that it will no longer matter how SEO-optimized your desktop website is. It will only matter how SEO-optimized your mobile website is.
No mobile website?
Those that do not have a mobile website or a website that adapts to mobile devices, will continue to be indexed in Google’s organic search results. However, there is a good chance that those websites will drop in Google’s rankings. In those instances, where a separate mobile website version is used for example: m.website.com, site owners should ensure that the mobile website has the same amount of content and that content, links, and mark-up are as similar as possible to the desktop version.
What you can do
If the mobile version of your website is not as good or better than your desktop version, here are some things that you need to improve:
1. Site speed
Quick load times is essential for serving users with a good experience when interacting with websites on mobile devices. Hence page speed will become an even more important ranking signal with Google’s new mobile first indexing.
Consider optimizing these elements:
- Code: Without changing any functions, remove all unnecessary characters from the source code.
- Images: If necessary, decrease image size so that they take less time to load and don’t slow down your website.
- Fewer redirects: Redirects can cause websites to reload and slow down the user experience.
- Store resources in browsers: By using browser caching some elements of web pages can be stored in the user’s browser and therefore requires less loading.
Make sure that Google’s crawling bot for smartphones is able to access and crawl all content elements that users can see and interact with.
3. Design for mobile devices
Interacting with a website can be quite different on mobile compared to desktop. For example, such things as user journeys and interaction patterns might differ.
Keep these things in mind, when optimizing mobile website design for search:
- Responsive design: Use responsive design, which lets the website adapt to the type of device that it is accessed on, rather than a separate mobile website.
- Design for fingers instead of mouse: Fingers are most common when interacting with mobile devices. Make sure that your interaction elements are finger friendly and do not require as much precision as they would on a desktop website.
- No pop-ups: Most pop-ups have a negative impact on the user experience. Even more so on mobiles than on desktops. Negative user experiences make users leave your website.
- Don’t use Flash: Flash elements cannot be seen on many smartphones. Which means that a large portion of your audience cannot see or interact with those elements. Use Java or HTML 5 instead.
4. Meta tags
Search engine result pages for searches conducted on mobile devices are usually smaller than on desktops. To get your message across, and to keep a high click-through-rate despite a smaller screen, be as precise and to the point as you can when creating URLs, page titles, and meta descriptions.
5. Local optimization to drive physical traffic to your physical locations
Optimizing for mobile increases the likelihood of reaching users when they are on-the-go. If your business has a physical location, and you can appear in search; for local search queries, users are more likely to act on the information you provide. Remember to include address and contact information in page titles, Header 1, URLs, content, alt tags and meta descriptions, whenever it is relevant.
Nordic SEO Director
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If you are unsure, whether your website is prepared for Google’s new mobile first index, feel free to contact your local NetBooster office for guidance!