Mobile-First Index: Mobile Over Desktop

Google finally launched its mobile-first index on March 26, 2018. The update came at the heels of careful testing and experimentation of the algorithmic changes. With this, the search engine will be favoring and displaying the mobile version of a web page first before showing its desktop counterpart to users.

What’s It For

This update is a move toward catering to the demands of users who are increasingly turning to their smartphones to find information in real-time. Google’s focus on mobile-friendliness began in 2015 when the team decided that it should be a ranking factor. They have been consistent with boosting the SERP visibility of mobile-friendly sites.

Before the mobile-first index, Google has used the desktop version of a page for crawling, indexing, and ranking. This posed a problem for searchers on their smartphones or tablets since they weren’t able to view the content in a layout that’s optimized for smaller screens.

The team clarified that the search engine will still have a single index that will serve search results to users’ queries. The mobile-first index is part of the main index. Moreover, they’ll be displaying a website’s mobile version in cached pages as well.

There are no changes for websites that only have desktop versions as well as those that have a responsive web design. If, however, you have separate URLs, Google will be displaying the mobile link or the m-dot site.

There were also changes for dynamic serving, where a website delivers different content based on what device is being used. Additionally, with AMP and non-AMP pages, the search engine will be favoring the mobile version of the non-AMP link for indexing.

What Were Its Effects

At the time of the announcement, Google confirmed that they’re migrating several websites to the mobile-first index, mainly those that followed the best practices. These sites definitely had the upper hand in terms of ranking against those who didn’t anticipate the emphasis on mobile search. There’s also the increased crawl rate of Smartphone Googlebot, which gave the assumption that the mobile-first index was the top priority.

What It Means for You

Optimizing your website, pages, and content for mobile viewing continues to be crucial today. It allows you to reach your target audience quickly and more conveniently. It also boosts the relevance of your brand and increases your professionalism as well as sincerity in providing the best experience for your users.

Here are some guidelines on how to make your website mobile-friendly:

Check How Your Site Looks on Mobile Before you make any significant changes, you should check what your website looks like when accessed through a smartphone or tablet. You can easily type in your URL on your phone and scroll through your content to look at the elements that can be optimized further.
Google has a Mobile-Friendly Test tool that evaluates whether a web page is already optimized for viewing through a smaller screen or which areas need to be improved. The service informs you if a page is not mobile-friendly and what issues you should be working on, such as the font size, viewport, and space between clickable elements. You can also learn about other problems such as in page loading and which resources can’t be viewed by the user appropriately.

Opt for a Responsive Web Design Responsive web design is a type of layout that adapts to the type and size of the screen through which a page is being viewed. It will ease the burden of worrying about how your content will be rendered on various devices. If you’re using the WordPress platform, you can select a responsive theme from its substantial database.
You should ensure that the theme you fancy is well-optimized and won’t have an adverse impact on your site’s performance as well as speed. It should also have a secure connection with customizable settings to give you more control over how your web page would look like.
Go with a Trustworthy Web Host The web hosting platform you use has a significant influence on your website, particularly its loading time. Site speed is crucial, especially in mobile search. Users want real-time convenience so you should optimize how fast your page loads.
Give Your Pop-Ups a Makeover Pop-ups already have an intrusive nature, and it can be distracting for mobile phone users. That’s why you need to redesign how your pop-ups look when viewed through smaller screens. They should be non-obstructive with the close button easily locatable. Nonetheless, interstitials that contain legal or essential information should be clear and conspicuous.