Does mobile-first indexing mark the age of MOBILEGEDDON?

I’m sure that you’ve heard over the last months many things about the new tracking Google’s system; Mobile-First Index. I’m talking about an update that affects all the websites and the way they rank in Search Engines. 

Google has always given a lot of importance to the user’s experience when it comes to position a website. That’s not new right?

By the end of 2016, Google announced that it was making their first experiments with this new algorithm. The entire purpose of it is improving, even more, the experience of users in mobile devices.

Take in count that mobile is the main device of internet’s access worldwide. This update is not a surprise for anyone.

This is all part of Google’s ever continuous effort to reflect the user behavior trends. I know that there is also a lot of confusion around what this means for the average business owner.

Do you know how this can affect the positioning of your website? Is there something you need to change? If your site is mobile-friendly, will that be enough? There are many questions you could have at this moment.

If you don’t know what to do yet, don’t worry. In this article, we’ll analyze all the keys to understand Mobile First Index (MFI) and its importance on websites.

How Does Mobile-First Indexing Affect SEO
How Does Mobile-First Indexing Affect SEO

Understanding the Google Index or Search Index: 

If this terminology is a bit confusing for you, let’s start from the beginning. Remember that indexing is the process by which Google (or any other search engine) “knows the pages of your website.” Google performs a crawling action on a website and, from there; it indexes the sites pages.

Know the main stages of this process:

  • Tracking or crawling: Google uses a web crawler (also known as Google Spider or Crawler) to analyze billions of websites. It does this in search of new and updated information. They’re created with the idea of ​​surfing the web as real people.
  • Scanning or reading the content: to have an overview, the spiders scan both the sitemap and the existing links on your web.
  • Processing and analyzing of data: Google analyzes relevant factors such as keywords, images, number of visits, internal and external links, duplicate content, etc.
  • Generation of the index: final stage in which is included in the results from the crawl made by the Google Spider Crawler of a website. They are saved in the Google Index.

From now on, the Google robot will track the pages with the smartphone agent and index them. In the search results, it will continue to show the most relevant URL for users (either for mobile or desktop devices).

What is Mobile-First Indexing? 

Its meaning is more literal than I think. It means that the mobile version of your site will be the starting point that Google will consider in their index. I’m talking about the baseline for how Google determine rankings. If you track the crawlbot traffic to your site, you will note an increase from Smartphone Googlebot. The cached versions of your pages will generally be their mobile versions.

It’s called Mobile-First to understand that is not the only aspect they value to index. In this manner, if a site doesn’t have a mobile-friendly version, the index can still include the desktop site. Don’t forget that the lack of a mobile-friendly experience will impact negatively on the rankings of your site.

If you improve your mobile experience, you will receive a rankings boost even for searches made on a desktop. This new algorithm of Google will consider the mobile version of your website as the primary one.  If your mobile and desktop version of your website offer both a great user experience, this Google update shouldn’t worry you.

If a website only counts with desktop content, it will continue to be represented in Google’s index, so DON’T PANIC yet. This is because content gathered by mobile-first indexing has no advantages in the ranking over the mobile content or desktop.

Make sure that your website’s content is optimized for mobile devices. This can be as simple as having a responsive web design. This way the mobile-first indexing won’t affect the performance of your site in search results.

Google has taken actions to let website owners know the importance of improving the mobile version of their websites:

  1. They notified sites that are migrating to mobile-first indexing via Search console.
  2. The crawl rate from the Smartphone Googlebot has increased
  3. It has notified that will show the mobile version of pages in search results and Google cached pages.

How Does Mobile-First Indexing Affect SEO?

Is time to change everything I have done so far on my website? 

Definitely no! Let’s take it easy!

It’s not about changing everything, but improving and finding webmasters that work to make your content mobile-friendly. The Google Spiders will check all kinds of content on the internet. It doesn’t matter if it’s desktop or mobile, they will determine how mobile-friendly it is.

It represents a reversal in the way Google thinks about your website. Remember that, in the past, your desktop site was the primary version. The mobile site, on the other hand, was an alternate version for particular use cases.

You don’t need to worry because this change is in the earliest stages of testing. Google is doing this with sites it considers to be prepared enough. This is helping to cut the impact.

Is not enough having a responsive design!

Some web masters think that having a responsive site is everything needed for this Google update. There are plenty other aspects to consider like page speed and load time. Optimizing images and dynamic elements is very important to improve a mobile experience.

If you think you are already “saved” of this change just for having a mobile site, you want to check these aspects:

1. Take care of the Real Estate Management: 

With mobile-first indexing, hidden content won’t be treated differently than what’s visible. Because of this, you need to use the space displayed in your screen wisely.

2. High-quality content: 

Select only the most valuable content of your desktop site for your mobile version. Make sure to include text, videos, and images in a format that be crawlable and indexable for the mobile version.

3. Structured data: 

Include the same in both mobile and desktop versions of your site. Simple is better in this matter. Avoid using unnecessary structured data if is not related to the specific content of a page.

4. Match the information in Metadata: 

This mistake is more frequent than you think. Titles and Meta descriptions must be equivalents on both versions of each page. Keep in mind that “equivalent” doesn’t mean “identical”. Don’t forget about the relevant information and keywords.

The social metadata is also vital. OpenGraph Tags, Twitter cards, etc. should be included in both mobile and desktop versions.

5. Don’t forget about connections:

The mobile version of our site must have access to all the links in your page including:

  • Sitemaps
  • Robot directives (those related to robots.txt and on-page meta-robots tags).
  • Trust signals, for example, links to your privacy policy page.

6. Search Console Verification: 

Don’t forget to verify both your mobile and desktop version of your website in the Google Search Console.

7. App Indexation: 

If your desktop site has app indexation set up, ensure that you have verified the mobile version of the site. Especially in relation to app association files.

8. Watch your server’s capacity! 

It’s necessary that host servers be able to handle crawl rate. This only applies if your mobile version is located on a separate host, such as m.domain.com.

This requirement pretends to improve the performance of mobile-friendly content for mobile searches. In this manner, I recommend to have fast-loading content because it’s the starting point for a mobile-friendly content.

Just remember that Google ranking includes many other factors. Search engines may sometimes show content that doesn’t meet all the mobile-friendly requirements. This happens when their other signals and Google Spiders determine that is still the most relevant content to show.

The truth is that Mobile-indexing is starting to roll out more quickly. A website that is indexed in this way has no ranking advantages. At Finepoint Design, we want you to know  that having mobile-friendly content is very important.  Especially for websites looking to perform better in mobile search results.

Don’t underestimate Google’s new algorithm. Contact us to create a custom strategy to keep your website ranking properly. You can always keep the look and feel of your  site while make sure it continues to perform at it’s best.

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