Google’s Mobile-First Index: 3 Things You Must Do to Your Website Now
After nearly a year and a half of testing, Google has finally announced its plan to rollout mobile-first indexing. This means that Google’s search indexing will now value mobile pages over run-of-the-mill desktop pages. With close to 60% of Google searches being carried out on mobile devices in 20161 (and increasing), it’s no wonder that Google has now prioritized the quality of a website’s mobile presence.
What does this mean for your business’s website if you don’t have your mobile pages in order? At worst, it can mean that your website’s search results are about to drop as competitors with superior mobile pages start showing up higher in the search engine results page (SERP). Best case, you seize the opportunity to get the mobile version of your site in order now and reap the benefits of Google’s new ruling while also improving the user experience, and quite possibly the lead generation, of your website.
Here are 3 things you need to do to your website’s mobile pages now to benefit from Google’s mobile-first indexing.
1. Verify Your Mobile Page with Google
This first step may seem like a no brainer, but there are still mobile versions of websites out there that haven’t been verified with Google. Verifying your site with Google is quick, painless and will nip this problem in the bud before it blooms into a major thorn in your side.
There are multiple ways to verify your site, including:
- An HTML file upload
- Verifying through your domain provider
- Inserting an HTML tag into your website
While most of the methods described on the Google Webmasters site are pretty self-explanatory—and some domain providers like GoDaddy.com streamline the process of site verification with Google—the easiest DIY method is inserting an HTML file into the HTML makeup of your site through Google Search Console. Search Console will generate a unique file to easily insert and viola; your mobile site is verified with Google and you’re one step closer to benefiting from the mobile-first indexing changeover.
2. Optimize Your Mobile Pages in Every Way Possible
So, your mobile page is verified with Google and you’re resting easy, believing that the subsequent mobile-first indexing was as simple as making sure Google knew your website existed. Wrong! Upon further investigation of your mobile site, you might realize that images are too large for mobile devices; the video on your homepage doesn’t even show up (even though the audio is playing); and the few blog posts that you can find aren’t formatted properly. Do you even want Google to know this site exists?
Short answer, yes. Having a broken or unorganized mobile site is typically better than not having one at all. However, along with making sure that you have a mobile page for Google to index, it’s equally important to make sure that the site functions for mobile users. The bounce rate on mobile devices is 40% higher when compared to desktop2 and 53% of mobile users abandon sites that take longer than three seconds to load3, indicating that a functional mobile page is as important to actual users as it is to search engines.
Ensure that key content, like important blogs, product or services information and any other content essential to your brand, functions properly for users and is correctly indexed by search engines. If key content isn’t translating well from desktop to mobile, it’s worthwhile to create a version of your website that works correctly for mobile users. There’s no downside to making sure that key content and functions operate appropriately and are able to be indexed correctly on your mobile site. To make sure you’re thinking with a mobile-first mindset, read more about mobile’s function in the B2B industry.
3. If You Don’t Have a Mobile Site, Consider AMP
Maybe you don’t have the time or know-how to create a mobile version of your site that accurately represents the quality of your brand. In this case, you may want to look into Accelerated Mobile Pages or AMPs. AMPs are straightforward to build, allow you to have the same control you would over your regular pages and maintain unmatched performance on mobile devices.
AMP pages are a viable alternative to reconstructing your entire site on mobile and you can even make a few AMPs that allow the same type of functionality found on your desktop available to mobile users.
There are a few steps you can take to make sure you keep your presence on Google consistent with your desktop site’s performance. However you decide to tackle it, just make sure that some version of your mobile site exists. Doing nothing will only open the door for your competitors to rise to the top of the SERP and glean qualified leads that could have been yours.
Do you need assistance getting your mobile pages up to speed for Google’s Mobile-First Index? Contact a digital marketing agency or specialist for custom recommendations and help with implementation.