How to Prepare Your Website for Google’s Mobile First Index

How to Prepare Your Website for Google's Mobile First Index

In today’s digital age, mobile devices have become integral to our lives. People rely heavily on their smartphones and tablets, from browsing the internet to shopping online. Recognizing this shift in user behavior, Google has introduced Mobile-first indexing, a significant update that has transformed how websites rank when you complete a Google search. In today’s video, we’ll discuss how mobile-first indexing can revolutionize your online presence and help you stay ahead in the ever-evolving world of search engine optimization.

Video Transcript:

In this episode of the SMA Marketing Minute, I want to talk about Google’s switch to mobile-first indexing. They’re splitting between desktop sites and the mobile version of indexing, so your site will be indexed twice by Google now.

Why Does Google Use a Mobile-First Ranking System?

Now, the biggest reason we need to pay attention to this is that mobile indexing will dominate search from now on. More people are moving to mobile devices. Walking around and searching for things on your mobile device is more accessible. Most people have abandoned home computers and gone towards tablets or high-functioning smartphones.

What do you need to do as a business owner, SEO agency, or marketing agency to get ready for mobile-first indexing? In this episode, we will talk about five things you can do immediately to make sure your site is ready to go.

5 Ways to Make Your Website Mobile Friendly

1. Speed

The first thing you need to be aware of is speed. Speed is more important than ever, especially regarding mobile searching. Google knows people aren’t as patient as they used to be, so they want your site to load within two seconds. That seems ridiculously fast if you have a long internet usage history. Back in the good old days, on America Online, it took minutes and minutes to get online and wait for your site to load. Then, you’d get cut off because someone would call in the middle connecting online. How frustrating was that?

It’s a good thing we no longer have that problem, but we’ve gone to the other extreme, where everyone expects things to be instant. What can you do to make your site load faster?

Optimize your images. There are a lot of great WordPress plugins if you’re using a WordPress site to optimize those images. If you’re not using WordPress, you want to make sure that you don’t have a large image that you will scale down and configure to be smaller on your site. If your image is 2,000 pixels, then on your site, it will be 400 pixels. Make sure you make that image 400 pixels. That way, you’re reducing the size of the image, compressing the size of that image, and not having extra weight on your site.

Minimize your code. Make sure your code is easier for the crawlers to read and servers to pick up and deliver faster, and you do not have extra code. Combine your code, minimizing it. Again, if you use WordPress, there are a ton of great plugins out there, and I’ll make sure to put some links to those below that can help you minimize your site content.

Leverage browser caching. WP Fastest Cache and WP Total Cache are good ones. Several other ones, especially if you’re on a WordPress site, will help you leverage your browser cache. If you’re not using a WordPress site, it’s more complicated, and you need to understand how to access that HT access file to put the appropriate language in there to make sure that your site is being cached properly.

Caching loads part of your site into the browser, so when the user goes to your site and has been on it, it stores the browser cache. Sometimes, you’ve seen “delete cache, delete history” inside your browser. It stores some of the files on your site, so when that user comes back, the load time is better because it already knows a little bit about that site and has some information stored on it.

Remove a lot of redirects. If your site is redirecting a lot of the time – maybe you’re redirecting one page to another page, and you’ve moved a lot of content around – those extra redirects can start to harm you. It’s making the server work that much harder to understand where all the content is on your site, where the new stuff is, what’s the right stuff, and what’s the wrong stuff. So, removing some of those redirects can help you speed up your website.

2. Don’t block CSS, JavaScript, or images

Mobile crawlers can now understand a lot more than they used to. They can understand Java, CSS, and the different file formats we give them. It will help your site load faster because it can cache on mobile and help the search engines understand your content, your mobile experience, and how it interacts with users.

3. Good Mobile Design

Have a good mobile design. While many sites have moved to responsive design or have a mobile site, not all sites are created equal. And even for some responsive sites, just because you have responsive coding doesn’t mean your site looks great or works on mobile. So, make sure that your mobile experience is a high-quality experience.

If you have Flash on your website, it’s time to let it go. Flash takes too long to load and only works on a few mobile devices. Apple put a lot of energy into killing Flash when they announced the iPhone because it doesn’t support Flash. Now, with HTML5 and as code continues to be reinvented because of what the internet is all about, Flash will have little importance. So, get rid of it now. It’s going to help your mobile experience. Make sure that’s consistent across all channels.

Another thing you want to do is get rid of all of those pop-ups. Sometimes, a pop-up is OK, but sometimes, for a mobile user, it’s just annoying. They’re trying to get content right now, and if they get a lot of pop-ups and they’ve got to click out and use their finger to push those little buttons, it’s going to annoy them and make them have a bad experience, and they’re most likely going to bounce.

That brings us to our last point, design for touch interaction. We don’t have a mouse on mobile. Your finger is your mouse. It’s what we’re going to use, and you must improve the user experience by making sure it’s easy for them to use with their finger.

4. On-Page SEO

On-page SEO is still essential because this is how the crawler will search to understand what your site is about. So, have the correct title text, and take time to put in good descriptions. Descriptions may not matter for mobile ranking, per se, but they will let the search engines know what your content is about. That’s what the crawlers are trying to do. They don’t understand like humans, where they can see and experience the content. They can only read the code. They can only read the text, so give them the right text so they understand what your site is about. It applies just as much for mobile as it does for desktop.

5. Optimize for Local Search

Local search is vital, especially for a mobile device. So, most users are going around, whether in their car, walking, or shopping, and they use their phones to find products, services, or locations where they know they can get them. Make sure that you optimize for local and use your NAPs (your name, address, and phone number). Make sure they are legible and easy to find and that you make them user-friendly, so when those people are engaging with your site on mobile when they are out shopping, they can see your location, get there quickly, and contact you. They need to know your store hours, all of those things that are so important for the user.

Put yourself in their shoes and think about what you need or want when you’re looking to shop locally and using your mobile device.

Use Google’s Seach Console to Optimize

Search Console is a valuable tool provided by Google that allows website owners to monitor and optimize their site’s presence in search results. One significant feature of Search Console is its ability to provide information about mobile-first indexing. It’s an important aspect of SEO, as it refers to Google’s practice of using the mobile version of a website’s content for indexing and ranking purposes. With the increasing use of mobile devices for internet browsing, Google prioritizes mobile-friendly websites in search results. Search Console provides website owners with alerts and notifications about any issues or errors related to mobile-first indexing, allowing them to optimize their site’s mobile experience and ensure that Google properly indexes it.

There you have it. You can do a couple of things to ensure your site is ready for mobile-first indexing. Yes, the desktop version is going to matter. Regular search still plays a significant role, and many people still search using their computers. Still, we have to emphasize mobile search more, mainly because Google is going there and society is moving there. As more and more people look to their smartphones as their primary source of connection, we, as business owners, site owners, and agencies, need to make sure that we are ready where the people are and can give them the right content at the right time.

Have a great week, and happy marketing.

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Helpful Tools:

Speed

Don’t block CSS, JavaScript, or images

https://yoast.com/dont-block-your-css-and-js-files/

Mobile design

Never use Flash.

Get rid of pop-ups.

Optimize for touch interaction.

On-page optimization

#5. Local optimization

https://moz.com/products/local/check-listing

SMA Marketing Global Digital Marketing Agency Ryan Shelley Founder and CEO Headshot
Ryan is passionate about helping companies make a more personal connection online with their customers and prospects. He is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land, the largest and most popular SEO news site on the web. His works have also been featured on the HubSpot Blog, Business2Community and by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

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