What Google’s new Mobile-First Priorities Mean for Your Website
Last month (March 2021), Google rolled out changes to how websites are picked for the SERP—the Search Engine Response Pages. Because the majority of web searches through Google come from mobile devices, such as smart phones, the algorithm now prefers websites that have a Mobile-First design approach.
What is Mobile-First Indexing?
According to Google developers, Mobile Indexing is the prioritization of websites with a mobile version. If the website is mobile-friendly, then Google is more likely to show the website in the SERP. Additionally, websites still need to have both mobile and desktop versions of their sites, but Google now will prioritize websites with mobile-first design.
Why has Mobile-First Indexing been implemented?
The majority of web searches now are performed by mobile devices. Google has also found that even when a desktop computer is present, such as in the home or at a work office, the majority of searches are performed via smart phone. (https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-strategies/search/how-advertisers-can-extend-their-relevance-with-search-infographic/).
What does all of this mean for you and your website?
In order to get the traffic to your website that you want, website owners will now have to make sure their mobile versions are updated, seamless, and optimized.
Google has a helpful guidebook on ways to make sure that your mobile website is doing what it is supposed to here (https://developers.google.com/search/mobile-sites/mobile-first-indexing), but here are some additional design principles that you can incorporate into your website to give you a better chance at being in the top page of results:
Make sure your website loads quickly on mobile devices
Nothing is more frustrating for users than long load times. Remember that most Google searches nowadays are quick endeavors—users want to get on, fact check or look something up, and then get off. Long loading times will drive potential website visitors away.
Keep the website simple!
This applies to both desktop and mobile devices: less is often more. An abundance of features and too much information can be overwhelming for visitors. This is especially true for users on their phones. It’s also important to remember that phone screens are relatively small compared to desktop screens, and the interface is often clunkier. Focusing on maintaining simple and intuitive designs will encourage mobile visitors to stay and look around your website.
Simplicity has the added benefit of keeping load times down. When less stuff needs to be shown, less stuff needs to be loaded.
Remember that these aren’t two different websites but one website with two versions
Google’s algorithm robot can get confused if it thinks there are two different websites at the same URL. If your mobile version and desktop version are distinctly different from one another, Google is less likely to prioritize it in the search results. Make sure that the content matches between the two—if one has less than the other, it’s time to do some updating.
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