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Search Engine Optimization

A Mobile-first Indexing Milestone for Google

Kate Fodera

By Kate Fodera

Dec 21, 2018

A Mobile-first Indexing Milestone for Google

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

(She says as she spins around the room, arms outstretched, and a big grin plastered on her face)

No, I’m not referring to the fact that Christmas is right around the corner.

I’m referring to the fact that Google has announced that over 50% of the search results the search engine returns globally are from crawling and indexing the web using mobile-first indexing.




Why Should I Care More About Mobile-first Indexing than The Holidays?

Okay, I guess you don’t have to pick whether or not the holidays or this announcement is more exciting but if it happens to come up in conversation over the dinner table, I want you to be prepared.

Put simply in Google’s own words:

“Mobile-first indexing -- means that we'll use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help our –  primarily mobile – users find what they're looking for.”

That means, when Google crawls your website, it’s crawling the mobile version first rather than the desktop version.

This is extremely beneficial for all of us who tend to pull our mobile devices out of our pockets when looking something up instead of using our desktops. And, this mobile-first indexing, is amazing because (surprise surprise) there are a lot of us who choose mobile…

  • The percentage of visits from mobile devices grew from 57% to 63%.

  • The percentage of time on-site from mobile devices grew from 40% to 49%.

  • Mobile Bounce Rate dropped from 52% to 47%.

Stats from Stone Temple.

And I can only see this number growing as time marches on. As a society, we heavily rely on the ease of using a mobile device to pay bills, search retail hours, find nearby happy hours, and more.

Great, so back to this 50% announcement...

This is exciting for us, as mobile-device-loving-humans, because the more Google prioritizes mobile-first, the better the online mobile experience possible when we're searching.

It’s even better for marketers who take the time to ensure their site is responsive when it’s time for Google to crawl it because that means their efforts will be rewarded.

When Google crawls websites, it looks for what sites are best (and provide the best experience) for users who are looking for information.

Are there new pages? Is there new content? Are all of the links working? Do users have to pinch and zoom in on the screen to read the content? Is the formatting wonky?

The list goes on.

If the experience is good, if people are frequently visiting and staying on the site, and if everything checks out to the bot, the site is ranked higher.

That means that your site will be served up higher in the search engine results, allowing more users to see it -- and we all know the more eyeballs that see it, the better chance we have to earn trust and generate more leads.

If your site is not responsive, it may get pushed down in the search results -- and we all know no one makes to page two. 

That’s why, as marketers, it’s absolutely positively crucial that we put mobile first just as Google is in order to rank well.

You must consider the mobile experience that users have when they visit your site from various mobile devices.

Go ahead, pick up your mobile device, and punch in your website URL.
Really, go ahead and do it right now. I’ll wait.

When it loads, is it responsive? Do you not have to pinch and zoom to get the information you need? Is your content easily consumed?

If so, there’s not much you need to do -- except maybe go wrap a few presents.

If the experience is not great, don’t freak out. We can help get that process started for you so that the next time Google crawls, your site will receive a higher ranking (aka found easier by users who are searching on Google).

How do I get my site ready for mobile-first indexing?

All steps can be found in our blog post, “What is Mobile-First Indexing & Why Does It Matter” but here’s a quick punch-list of what you need to do or look out for ASAP:

1. Look for a notification from Google that tells you when your site becomes subject to mobile-first indexing.

2. Evaluate your mobile experience. Look for ways in which the experience is consistent to desktop and ways which is not. Then take it a step further to see how you can clean it up, such as updating navigation, to make it an even better experience for those who are using devices.

3. Review conversion paths and how seamless the experience is for someone who wants to, well… convert on your site. You can do this by signing into your Google Analytics account and filtering your conversions for mobile.

4. Consult a professional. If you have a support team or if you’re working with an agency, contact them to see how they can help you make your site ready for mobile-first. If you don’t have one, run a search on your phone or tablet for a user experience, website redesign or digital marketing professional to help understand how to get the most out of your website for your business.

Mobile Matters

Google’s mobile-first indexing is a great thing for everyone who uses the internet by helping us to get the best mobile experience possible. We, as marketers, just need to make sure we’re ready for it when Google crawls our site.

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Take this free 6 question assessment and learn how your website can start living up to its potential.

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