Googles Mobile First Indexing and the Impact to your Website

Written by Bryan Coles | Published on January 31, 2018
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You may not have heard, but Google is making a significant change to the way it indexes websites that will impact search results for both mobile and desktop.  With the rise of smartphones and the integral role they play in our everyday lives, it's only a matter of time before mobile gets prioritized over desktop.  Sometime in 2018 Google will roll out Mobile First Indexing.  If you are unfamiliar with what indexing is its the process of collecting and storing a website's data for use by the search engine.  Traditionally indexing has been focused on the desktop and desktop experience first, the content on the desktop site is crawled and evaluated based on hundreds of different signals ranging from the user experience to content quality and back-links.  Now sites will be evaluated from the perspective of a mobile user. 

How will this affect my site 

If your website currently has a strong mobile experience then you are unlikely to be affected.  If you have a responsive site that has the same content as the mobile site it will not likely have any impact on your keyword positions.  However, if you have a separate mobile experience that has less content then the Desktop version you are very likely to be impacted by this change and if you've somehow managed to maintain good ranking without any mobile version of your site, those days are numbered. 

What can I do about it? 

Google has begun testing the algorithm that said there is still some time before full implementation.  This is the time to redesign your website with a few things to keep in mind.

Mobile First Design 

Mobile first design is a design philosophy that starts with designing the mobile experience first.  Designing for a great mobile experience involves more than just adapting a desktop design to mobile.  Thinking of mobile ease of use, load times and simple navigation are just a few items that need to be considered when designing for mobile first.  A users intent is different for mobile than desktop which has not been a priority for Google until now.  

Load time, Load time, Load time

Fast load times are one of the most important issues for a mobile user.  Lagging sites lose 29% of all mobile users and 70% of mobile users that go somewhere different cite slow load times as the reason.  Large image files, not utilizing the browser cache and pages with too much on them are some common issues that can affect load times. 

The path of the user

Mobile users have considerably less screen space than desktop users so considering the path and experience of the mobile user is important.  Compare the navigation of the mobile user to the desktop user to ensure that the mobile user has easy access to information.  Keep in mind any pop-ups that your site might be using as well.  Pop-ups typically take too much screen real estate to be effective on mobile and frustrate users, find other ways to drive conversions that are more in line with the user experience. 


So what does that mean for you?  Well if you've been up to date with your website and have made the move to a responsive site or a full-fledged separate mobile experience then you should be fine.  If for some reason your site is not responsive or your mobile site isn't as full as the desktop version then you are going to notice a significant decrease in your ranking.  If you have questions about what you should do about the coming Google update contact Bryan Coles bcoles@rkd.ca and I'll be glad to help.


About the Author

Bryan Coles is an experienced digital marketer with success working with a variety of companies in various markets.  When he's not learning about the latest digital marketing strategies you can find him on the golf course or enjoying a locally brewed IPA. 


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