Google has been leaving trails of their mobile-first index plans for about a year now, and on November 4th, 2016 they revealed details about the mobile-first index on their own blog. If you haven’t heard about this before, you may be wondering what is Google mobile-first index in the first place?
Google Mobile-First Index Defined
Well, Google Mobile-First Index is Google’s new way of indexing websites, wherein the GoogleBot will now give priority to the mobile version of a website for its ranking, rather than the desktop version, and will use the desktop version only if the mobile version is not available.
This change has occurred due to the rise in users using mobile devices to search on Google, and it’s a step to increase the relevance of the search results accordingly.
So Google has already begun the mobile revolution by starting their test phase of Google mobile-first indexing. Question is:
- How do we get aboard this bandwagon?
- How to get on Google search engine results?
- How can Google Search Console help us in this scenario?
Here are some steps to implement on your website to optimize it for this new Google indexing:
Optimization Steps For Google Mobile-First Index
#1. Optimize Mobile Site Speed
Since the main aim of the Google mobile-first index is to serve mobile users, begin by focusing on improving the speed of your mobile site. Users prefer the sites they are visiting to be super-fast, and so does Google.
- Optimize large images to the ideal size so that it loads faster.
- Remove unnecessary characters from source code by Minification.
- Leverage Browser Caching to store website resources on the local device.
- Website Redirects can slow down the speed of website, so aim to have minimum redirects.
#2. Avoid Blocking JS, CSS and Images
In the past, a normal practice was to block JS, CSS and Images for mobile sites so that it could load faster.
However, now with the testing of Google mobile-first index it is recommended that this should not be done, since mobile users are entitled to get the same experience of websites as they would on a desktop.
Additionally, mobile devices have become very powerful now and can process anything that you throw at them.
Use the Fetch and Render Tool in Google Search Console to get a preview of how Google Bots will view and index your website, as well as how it will be displayed to mobile users.
Make sure to select the “mobile: smartphone user-agent” option to get the correct result, and try fixing your website if any content is missing.
#3. Design For Mobile
The Google mobile-first index also takes user experience of a website into consideration for its ranking.
To enhance the user experience of your website on a mobile device, aim for a mobile responsive design.
Responsive design goes beyond coding, and the focus is more on how users feel when they are on your site, and how easily can they traverse through it.
- Avoid Flash Completely: Many mobile devices do not support Flash anymore. You can replace that with HTML5 or Java to add some cool animations on your website.
- No Pop-Ups: Pop-ups are generally irritating for users on desktops, and much more on mobile devices. They drive away users, thereby increasing the bounce rate of your site which will have a direct negative impact on your ranking.
- Keep the “Finger” in Mind: Remember that users use their finger on mobile devices. So design your site to make it easy for users to traverse your mobile site, and keep reasons for accidental taps to zero.
#4. On-Page Optimization
The Google mobile-first index will also give priority to on-page optimization, just like it did for the desktop version indexing. If you have a separate mobile site, make sure to optimize its titles, descriptions, headers, structured data and other relevant tags.
#5. Local Optimization for Google Mobile-First Index
Recently, Google released a new update to their local search algorithms based on their research of local search behavior. They found that:
Since mobile searches for local businesses are so important, it is wise to optimize your mobile site accordingly to get the edge over your competitors in the Google mobile-first index race.
#6. Verify Mobile Site in Google Search Console
Usually, in Google Search Console website owners only verify desktop version of their site and leave out the mobile version.
However, with the Google mobile-first index testing it is important to add and verify the mobile site as well. This submission helps GoogleBots to index your mobile site sooner.
#7. Secure Your Site And Keep a Backup
Users will refrain from entering a site that has been tagged as hacked, or that doesn’t show any relevant pages.
Back up your site regularly to ensure you have a copy in case of a hack, and stay at the top of your game by securing your website using Google Search Console and Analytics.
Keep your website bounce rate to the minimum as this will be a positive factor to rank high in the Google mobile-first index.
Be Victorious Over Google Mobile-First Index
Please Note: If you do not have a separate mobile site for mobile devices, and have only one responsive site that serves both desktop and mobile devices then just optimize this version for the Google mobile first index.
This indexing is only on a test phase for now and we do not know what to expect when it actually becomes official.
Implement these steps for your website now to be ready for the day when it is officially released and to rank high in the Google mobile-first index.
We hope you found this article useful and informative as always. Do leave your valuable comments below and don’t forget to share this article with your friends.