Back in 2016, Google shared its plan to make search index operations more mobile-friendly. It had the intention of eventually using the mobile version of websites for indexing purposes. Almost two years later, the search engine giant announced the rollout of its mobile-first index.
The mobile-first index, announced on March 26, is an algorithm update that puts greater emphasis on the mobile-friendliness of websites. It bumps up the mobile version of websites on search engine results pages (SERPs), putting these ahead of desktop versions. Google decided that this is the right step for the future of search index because more people rely on their mobile devices rather than desktop computers to research and to look for – and eventually purchase – specific products or services on the internet.
The search engine giant is gradually rolling out the mobile-first index to give website owners and digital marketers time to update their websites. After all, the update will inevitably influence SEO results.
What Does Google Mean by Mobile-First Index?
We use smartphones not just to communicate with other people through calls, text messages, emails, and social media platforms. We also use them for search engine purposes, like to look up a new restaurant downtown or to find a much-needed product or service nearby. Hence, mobile-friendly websites are an increasingly important factor in a brand’s online presence.
Google recognizes the fact that mobile is changing the world as we know it. So, it has introduced the Mobile-First Index which uses mobile websites as a primary basis for indexing web pages.
The Google Webmasters Blog says that the mobile-first index will make search results more relevant. Google algorithms will start using mobile website versions as a primary basis of web page rankings regardless of which version — mobile or desktop — users access to view the site. In other words, the search engine will use your website’s mobile version to determine its rank on search engine results pages.
Take note, however, that it is a mobile-first index and not a mobile-only index. Google will continue to build a streamlined search experience for users whether they are on mobile or desktop devices.
The mobile-first index update took effect in March 2018. The shift toward a mobile-focused indexing process is due to the spike in mobile search – most users now access Google through their mobile phones. It is not an immediate update, though, because the search engine giant understands that businesses cannot just transition to a more responsive mobile site overnight. As such, Google is gradually rolling out the update to make sure that website owners and digital marketers understand its purpose and process – and that they have the leeway to make the necessary adjustments to their sites.
What Does the New Algorithm Have to Do with Business Websites?
Google’s mobile-first index changes online marketing in a major way. The search engine giant will start using the mobile version of websites to determine the site’s SERP rankings on both mobile and desktop. Therefore, business owners and digital marketers must optimize their websites for mobile.
The indexing algorithm update, which stems from the notion that most Google users are on mobile devices, has significant implications on existing digital marketing strategies. It encourages business owners and digital marketers to make their websites mobile-friendly.
But, why exactly does the new algorithm want business websites to become mobile-friendly?
Many people use their mobile devices to go on search engines and browse through web content. They might experience difficulties navigating through a website if it is not mobile-friendly; pinching and zooming the screen to get a better view of a website’s desktop version on a mobile device might be frustrating. You give users more reason to explore your business website if it is readable and usable on whicever platform they may access it from.
Google understands that building a mobile-friendly website hinges several factors: the skill of developers, an updated business model, and the expertise of digital marketers. So, the search engine giant gives a few reminders about the technical implementation of a mobile-friendly site.
- Take Google’s Mobile Friendly Test to determine whether your website is mobile-friendly.
- Customize the existing website software if you built the site on a content management software like WordPress.
- Hire a developer to make a new mobile site if you did not use a software such as the one mentioned.
The new indexing algorithm looks at the performance of websites on mobile. If you have a website optimized for mobile, then the chances are higher that it will rank better on Google SERPs. As such, some adjustments may be necessary to make sure that your digital marketing strategy considers and implements appropriate SEO tactics for your business website.
How Do I Maintain Great SEO Results with the New Rollout?
By rolling out the mobile-first index last March, Google let us know that it will start using the mobile index to rank websites on both mobile and desktop SERPs. The new indexing algorithm inevitably affects current SERP rankings, so business websites should adopt a mobile-friendly SEO strategy to maintain and improve brand visibility. Brands that want to succeed with the mobile-first index should focus on quality content and responsive web design.
Quality content refers to authoritative and engaging pieces that send a message to your target audience – your content should let them know that you are a professional who wants to reach out to them. Good content entices website visitors to browse and explore your business website.
But, of course, quality content does not stop there. It needs to remain relevant to the needs and concerns of your target audience. Quality content goes beyond the words written on your website, as well. It also refers to visual forms of content that draw the attention of site visitors and addresses your market’s concerns. Take advantage of infographics, images, and videos that make your website look easier on the eyes and to provide useful, actionable information to your market.
On the other hand, responsive web design refers to the appearance and functionality of your website across different devices and screen sizes. Keep in mind that your target audience is more likely to stay on your website if it provides them with a seamless customer experience. For this reason, you must streamline your web design and performance to engage site visitors.
Responsive web design is not just about aesthetics – it goes deeper than looks. It is an important factor in Google’s new indexing process because the user experience that your mobile website provides affects the bounce rate from your page back to the SERP. To put it simply, you need responsive web design to keep visitors from clicking back and looking at other websites. When you have established a low bounce rate on your mobile website, Google’s algorithm is more likely to give your page a good ranking.
At the end of the day, it’s all about shining the spotlight on user experience.
Google’s new rollout focuses on mobile websites, so you should focus on creating content and design that encourage interaction with your audience through their mobile screens. Make the necessary adjustments for a seamless mobile browsing experience, and you are one step closer to succeeding and gaining the nod of the mobile-first index.
Let’s Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
C-1 Partners is your trusted digital marketing agency in Denver. We integrate the latest SEO trends into your digital marketing strategy, making sure your business website is visible to the audience. Contact our Denver SEO company, today, for a website that aligns with Google’s new mobile algorithm.