Mobile-First Indexing

[Reading time: 3.25 min]

First let’s define what “mobile” means to Google.

Mobile in essence is a smartphone. Not your laptop, notebook, or even tablet or iPad. It’s your phone, your smartphone. If you develop websites or even just blog, MOBILE FIRST should be in front of you at all times.

Google’s own definition is – “Mobile: In this document, “mobile” or mobile devices refers to smartphones, such as devices running Android, iPhone, or Windows Phone. Mobile browsers are similar to desktop browsers in that they can render a broad set of the HTML5 specification, although their screen size is smaller and in almost all cases their default orientation is vertical.”

Knowing this is important when building your website. Because I am mostly a WordPress site developer, I don’t concern myself with the coding. I leave that to WordPress and my theme. So be sure to use a fully responsive theme. Check it out on a smartphone before you commit a lot of time to developing your site with a particular theme. Make sure it’s considered a good mobile theme.

In fact, use Google’s “Mobile-Friendly Test” site to check to make sure. [https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly]

I live in Niagara Falls, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and needless to say, there are a lot of businesses here that need mobile friendly websites. Restaurants, hotels, tour operators and the like. As I was writing this post I decided to do a random check of these local businesses to see if they’ve got mobile friendly websites.

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, but at least 50% of the 100 sites I checked are not mobile friendly. Wow, there’s absolutely no excuse, and none of these businesses should be complaining about their poor business.

Their Website Is The Most Important Asset They have!

OK, let’s understand what Google is doing with Mobile-First Indexing.

Google is basing what it places in the index based on the mobile version of your site. They used to index the desktop version of your site first.

Got it?

Google is looking at the mobile version of your website first and using that information for the search results.

This switch was made because more and more searches come from a mobile device and to give those users a better experience, Google decided that it was time to prioritize mobile results.

Also, and remember this – that the mobile-first index is not a separate index, Google has only one index from which it serves the results. Thus, mobile is the most important.

You will see in your Google Search Console when Google indexed your site “mobile first” This means that Google will determine by the content available on your mobile site how you will rank — both on the desktop and on mobile. This is really important, especially if you have both a mobile site and a standard site. But most WordPress sites are responsive, so both mobile and desktop are identical content so you have nothing to worry about.

You do not have to have a mobile site to be in the mobile-first indexing, as Google is indexing sites as well. However, it’ll be hard to rank if your site is not mobile friendly.

Write for mobile!

Remember, reading from a screen is hard and from a mobile screen is even harder. To attract a mobile audience, you’ll need to have mobile-friendly copy. This means short sentences and compact paragraphs. You need to make sure your font on your mobile site is large and clear and make sure to use enough whitespaces.

No doubt some of the content writing rules have changed. Go through your current site and make sure your site is mobile friendly visually as well as being filled with quality content. Check your Google Analytics to determine where your audience is coming from, mobile or other wise. If you are a local business, or you build sites for local businesses, then for sure, mobile is first.

Things like “page speed” are even more important in mobile rendering. If the user will wait 3 seconds on a computer, they’ll only wait half that on a phone. 1.5 seconds you must be “on-screen.” Also not that according to Chrome’s developer tools, the screen dimensions for mobile are 412 x 732. For those with a little more coding experience, this could be important for your site.

Take the time to evaluate the mobile version of your website. Is your design (theme) good enough? Or could you improve? Are the buttons large enough to tap? What about your content? Could you make your text more readable for a mobile audience? Make sure your website creates a “wow” mobile experience because this will make a difference in your rankings quickly.