Google has started to make good on a promise they announced over a year ago regarding changes to it’s algorithm, Don’t fear–we’ve got all the details that you need to know to keep up with the changes. Let’s get one thing out of the way that will make a difference to Google: if your web presence is not tailored to a user-friendly mobile experience, then you have got to make the switch. Mobile-first indexing is on it’s way, and it’s coming quickly.
Soon and very soon, Google will be indexing the web with a mobile point of view. To “index the web” basically means to put the contents of a site in a specific order. Up until this point, Google has been indexing the web from a desktop point of view, meaning it crawls websites as they are viewed on a desktop and index the items according to how user friendly the website is when viewed on a desktop computer. But, Google has recently announced that because of mobile priority in using the Google search engine, in the future websites will be indexed according to how friendly their mobile site is for the user.
Here’s everything you need to know about Google’s newest announcement and what you need to do to be sure that your website is ready:
Mobile Site vs Responsive Website
Mobile websites were all the rage a few years back until they were replaced with Responsive websites. Mobile websites differ from Responsive websites in that they are completely separate whereas a responsive site, while the same website, adapts to multiple devices.
To explain another difference, a mobile website is essentially a condensed version of a desktop website. When someone accesses a website on a mobile phone, the user will be directed to a corresponding mobile website. While seemingly a better solution than the alternative of forcing your users to pinch and zoom their way through your site while on their mobile device, a major drawback of a mobile site is the lack content that doesn’t make the cut onto the mobile site.
Responsive Web Design (RWD), on the other hand, is designed to maintain your website parameters allowing the entire presentation to essentially change and adapt to whatever mobile device is being used to view the site.
Content Makes a Difference
Frequently companies will opt to have just some of the information from the desktop site on the mobile version because having two websites is neither cost effective in the designing nor in the hosting. This will frustrate users when they can’t find what they are looking for, and will also result in a poor evaluation of the website when it comes to Google SERPs. Because Google crawls and ranks based on your content, SEO, and links, missing a majority of these which appear are on your desktop site, will cause your mobile site to show poorly on result pages.
Because of the drawbacks, we highly recommend making the switch to an RWD. With an RWD, the amount of content, SEO keywords, and links all stay the same no matter what device your site visitors are using. Therefore, your website’s Google ranking will not change based on device size.
Ranking Signals will Come from Mobile, Not Desktop
Ranking signals are different from SEO in that they are a more comprehensive benchmarkers that deal with the user’s experience. One of these ranking signals is page speed. Right now, you’ve probably made sure your site speed surpasses standards. But Google has said that in the future the site speed of your mobile site (or responsive site) will be ranked higher than that of the speed of your desktop site.
In addition, Google will also be evaluating your title, H1’s, structured data, and other tags as well as content generated from your mobile site rather than your desktop site. So what does this mean? It means that your mobile website needs to be made as much of a priority as your desktop site. Another reason why a RWD must be top priority.
Will my Website be Penalized?
Google will not penalize you for not adapting to a mobile website. However, your site will be penalized as a natural consequence to your failure to adapt to mobile sites. Basically, if your website is ranking #1, yet is only formatted for desktop version, it will fall short when compared to another website with comparable information links, tags titles, site speed, etc, because it has been formatted for the mobile user.
So no, Google isn’t going to penalize you, but it will play favorites.
Google hasn’t announced when this switch will happen, but they have said that they are testing the new indexing methods in the coming weeks. If their history is any indication, the switch will come fast and furious and you want to make sure your site is ready. Our digital team are experts in making a brand’s successful switch from a desktop priority website into a Responsive Web Design. Don’t hesitate to get into contact with our team so we can help your company to be ready for mobile-first indexing!