Despite increased attention, favoritism towards mobile pages, and “Mobilegeddon” updates, until recently, Google was indexing desktop pages first, before their mobile counterparts. Now, Google is officially indexing mobile pages first. It’s the latest in a long line of changes that favor mobile pages over desktop pages, and Google has even gone on record to state that desktop pages aren’t necessary anymore.
But what does this change mean for search optimizers?
How Should You Respond?
In order to understand what mobile-first indexing means for your SEO strategy, it’s important to take inventory of where you are. If your website is already mobile friendly, then you don’t really need to make any changes. You should see your rankings naturally increase over time. But if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, then you probably aren’t experiencing these same positive effects.
“If you don’t have a dedicated mobile site or a responsive site, the search engine bots will continue to crawl and index the desktop version of the site,”
says Ria Fiscina, SEO department manager at Active Web Group.
“There will be no penalties due to not having a mobile site. However, there will also be no advantages.”
So the very first step is to make sure all of your websites are optimized in a mobile-friendly manner. If they aren’t optimized, revisit the drawing board and focus on creating responsive pages.
Putting the Focus on Improving Mobile UX
Just because your websites are already optimized for mobile, doesn’t mean you’re free to sit back and relax. Now’s the time to focus on your mobile user experience (UX). Specifically, that means prioritizing the following:
- If there’s one thing today’s mobile users want, it’s simplicity. They’re tired of “busy” layouts and overwhelming visuals. They’re working within the physical constraints of smaller screens and want experiences that are attractive, yet minimalist in nature.
- Few things are more important to mobile users than speed. It was announced last year that the speed of mobile pages will be taken into account in the near future, which could mean as soon as this year. Get ahead of the curve by focusing on it now. Google even has a tool to help you test the speed of your site.
- Finally, functionality matters. Mobile users are accustomed to using mobile apps that are useful and fluid. As a result, they expect mobile websites to provide tangible value that can be used to improve their internet experiences.
If you have mobile friendly sites that prioritize for simplicity, speed, and functionality, then you won’t have any trouble being competitive on the SEO front in the coming months.
Don’t Get Left Behind
You can hope that Google will change it’s mind and start prioritizing a desktop-first approach again, but it looks like that train has left the station.
“Google has more of an incentive to continue to update search results for mobile searchers, as they recently announced that there are officially more smartphone than desktop searches in the U.S,”
SEO expert Bryson Meunier said back in Spring 2015.
“As long as searchers continue to use their smartphones to search, and they are in growing numbers, Google will prioritize those searchers and attempt to give them the best experience.”
A lot has changed over the last couple of years, but Meunier’s words still ring true. Mobile is more important than ever – don’t bet against it. In the coming weeks and months, focus on enhancing mobile UX and keep an eye out for tweaks and changes to the search algorithms.