The following is a guest post by Ivan Serrano. Ivan is an enthusiastic writer who enjoys learning whatever he can about international communications, and hopes to manage his own global business someday. He also enjoys sharing his knowledge of technology and how it can improve business communications on an international level.
Want to make sure that your website is ranking well on Google? What kind of question is that? Of course you do. That being the case, you need to make sure your web design techniques are on par with the way Google currently ranks websites. The fact is that those web design classes you took a few years ago might have given you some valuable foundational skills, but the knowledge you picked up there probably isn’t relevant anymore. That’s because Google is always changing the way it ranks websites in order to account for new trends in technology and user behavior. If you want to stay competitive, you have to keep up with them.
One phrase you may have heard already in recent weeks is mobile-first indexing. If you don’t know what that means yet (or if you’re only coming across it for the first time in this article), then pay close attention to what you’re about to read. Mobile-first indexing refers to Google’s most recent approach to ranking websites. As you may have guessed, this approach involves putting mobile websites ahead of desktop pages.
A Detailed Look at Mobile-First Indexing
To understand mobile-first indexing, it’s vital to first understand the way that Google used to rank websites. Here’s an overview:
- Google ranks each extant page by crawling it, which means that they use a program to look at the information displayed on the page and determine how relevant it will be to any given keywords typed into the search bar by a user.
- Google used to use a system called desktop-first indexing, which involved crawling the desktop version of each page first and using that information to determine the rankings for both the mobile and desktop versions of the site in question. Under this system, mobile sites could only provide a small bonus to the rankings.
- Under mobile-first indexing, the process is more or less reversed. Google now crawls the mobile version of each site first, in order to determine the desktop and mobile rankings for it. It only crawls the desktop version of the site when no mobile version exists.
How Does Mobile-First Indexing Affect SEO?
In light of the above, those of you who work in digital marketing may want to pay closer attention to your mobile websites. The key thing to remember is that mobile-first indexing basically makes your mobile site the primary version of your website. That said, you want to make sure it has all the same information as your desktop page. You also need to make sure that information is arranged and displayed in a way that is convenient for mobile users. Pay attention to the following tips:
Make sure the following is equivalent to your desktop page:
- Metadata (including social metadata)
- Structured data
- XML and links to media sitemaps
- Search console verification
Make sure the following is updated or optimized for your mobile site:
- Server capacity (expect a much higher crawl rate on the mobile site)
- Images and videos (don’t use anything too high-res, as this will take too long to load on a mobile page)
- Collapse your content and hide it in tabs, since this will be treated the same as visible content on mobile pages.
- Once you have updated your mobile site, make sure you are using tools such as Google Analytics to obtain feedback you can use to keep improving it. If you are using app indexing on either site, consider implementing Google Analytics into your app through a relevant software development kit.
Mobile-first indexing will not require you to throw out everything you know about web design or SEO and start from the ground up. You’ll simply have to adapt your existing content to account for the changes Google is making. Remember: SEO is an ever-evolving practice, so it pays to stay ahead of the curve.