For the ultimate insight on just how important the mobile web is today, one short phrase says it all: Mobile-first indexing.
Recognizing that the majority of web searches and the majority of email opens are performed on a mobile device, Google has been moving steadily toward elevating mobile as the centerpiece of its search experience. Now, in the first half of 2018, that shift is more apparent than ever.
With mobile-first indexing, Google will prioritize the mobile version of your site as your face on the web. Search listings will be created and ranked based on the mobile version of content, giving a tremendous advantage to companies that invest in the best mobile experience.
Google will continue to crawl and present the desktop version of sites that don’t have a mobile version. However, the writing is on the wall: Mobile is the first, and there is no guarantee such sites will not be penalized later on down the line.
Likewise, sites where the mobile version has less content than the desktop version may suffer.
What Should Businesses Do to Prepare for Mobile-First Indexing?
Although top Googlers have stated mobile-first shouldn’t lead to a significant change in rankings, content that isn’t mobile-friendly is continuing to fall behind. Here’s what companies should do right away to get ahead of the curve:
Implement Responsive Design
A responsive design meets the needs of mobile users by adjusting the size and placement of elements according to the optimum layout for a user’s display. With responsive design, you don’t need to have separate desktop and mobile sites. If your company uses a Content Management System (CMS) there may be a software add-on that makes your site responsive in one click.
Optimize Mobile Crawlability
Now’s as good a time as any to ensure Google is processing and displaying all your content correctly. Submitting an XML sitemap helps make certain Google spiders can find and index pages. A relatively new contender in crawlability is Schema.org structured data, which also provides explicit information to search engines about the meaning of a page.
Develop Mobile-Optimized Content
Content production should be aligned with mobile design and content consumption as soon as possible. Remember that shorter paragraphs are easier to consume on mobile and visual content – especially short videos and infographics – tend to be more successful than plain text blogs. Headlines remain vital for capturing interest, but should also be as short as possible.
Google has had its new indexing in the workshop for a long while and seems more wary than usual about upending search conventions. That gives enterprises of all sizes a golden opportunity to move with the times: Mobile-first is expected live for all sites later this year.