Google announced on their Google Webmasters Blog here that they have started to experiment making their index “mobile first.” Most people may say, no big deal, but as an avid internet marketer I’ve learned to pay attention to how Google says things. For instance, they’ve said, “Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results.”
Wow! They just said the mobile version of a website is going to be the primary factor to:
– Rank pages
– Understand structured data (rich snippets, json, rich cards, amp)
– Show snippets of pages in their results
First off, marketers should remember what an announcements purpose is & how Google uses them. In the most basic form it is to let people know of something new. So don’t assume this is something you’ve already known or it is something that Google has already been doing. If that was the case, there would not be an announcement.
Secondly, an experiment is to find out various results of something. Consider the vast insight Google has to see & correlate actionable response with social response. What does that mean? The fact that they’ve chosen to announce this on their blog shows several things have already taken place.
– Google is trying to gauge the reaction of the announcement. That is part of the “experiment.”
– Google can actually see how many people read their post & take action.
– They can measure the adjustment website owners do to make there websites more mobile friendly.
– If Google identifies adjustments that present a further opportunity for them to test, more mobile ready websites are included in search result pages to see user reactions via CTR (click through rate), page bounces etc.
– Google can see activity people are focused on in Google Search Console, if they are updating structured data, creating rich cards, etc.
Something to remember is this is not just some new strategy that is being suggested, this is Google evolving. Google has years of data showing real user searching habits according to device. If they’re moving more focused to mobile, so should you. Google has specifically said,
To make sure your website is ready for the shift take action of the following guidelines:
Google’s Mobile First Indexing – Steps to Prepare
1 – Just because your site is responsive does not mean there’s nothing else to do to prepare.
2 – If you are a site owner who has only verified their desktop site in Search Console, please add and verify your mobile version.
3 – Use the robot.txt testing tool to verify that your mobile version is accessible to Googlebot.
4 – When adding structured data to a mobile site, avoid adding large amounts of markup that isn’t relevant to the specific information content of each document.
5 – Make sure to serve structured markup for both the desktop and mobile version.
6 – Sites can verify the equivalence of their structured markup across desktop and mobile by typing the URLs of both versions into the Structured Data Testing Tool and comparing the output.
7 – Add call button or text to your webpages, at a minimum to your home page. Adding this type of hyperlink code <a href=”tel:123-456-7890”>123-456-7890</a> turn into a call action on a mobile device, letting users easily call your business.
8 – Have Address information & even better link to directions on website.
9 – If your website is content heavy, consider trimming down the content to the most important & actionable content on mobile version of website.
10 – Optimize & resize images so they don’t load large images.
11 – Optimize page load times, & Test on several leading mobile devices.
12 – Write mobile titles & descriptions based on user intent. Users searching on a phone may need service now, & your title & description determines if they choose you.
13 – Test your site using Google’s mobile friendly testing tool here.
There are plenty more things to consider when preparing for the mobile first changes Google is making, but these should help build a solid foundation. Start to take action now, & reap the rewards when others are trying to catch up. In summary, the key take aways are to make sure you have a mobile version of your website that is structured correctly according to Google’s guidelines. If you want a handy checklist, I’ve created one that you can download here to keep track of your mobile optimization progress.
Post First Published on KEM-ELectMedia