Google’s mobile-first indexing started back in 2016 but it came out as a full-fledged update in 2018. All of Google’s indexing is now mobile first.
Understanding the mobile-first index
Mobile-first index, as the name implies, means that when Google indexes the pages of your site, it puts the mobile version of your site over the desktop version. While desktop version still gets indexed, if your site isn’t optimised for mobile, then it may experience a negative impact in rankings.
However, it is crucial to understand the difference in the way mobile and desktop versions are created. You can either keep the same URL for both set of users or have different URLs. When you have different URL’s for both, you need to follow certain practices to have your site optimised.
Best practices for mobile-first:
1) Metadata should be present on both desktop and mobile versions
A crucial part of search engine optimisation is concerned with your site’s metadata. When you are optimising your content for the search engines, it is important that you focus on the meta titles and descriptions and ensure that they are equivalent for both the mobile and desktop sites.
Additionally, make sure to assign optimised ALT attributes to your images and not leave it blank.
2) Same content on mobile and desktop sites
When you have separate URLs for your mobile and desktop sites, it is common to have less content on the mobile version as compared to the desktop version. To ensure that mobile-first indexing helps your site, keep the same content on your mobile pages as you have on your desktop pages.
3) Use responsive design
Responsiveness is a critical measure of mobile-friendliness. If your site has a responsive design, it offers an enhanced experience. By a responsive site, we mean that your site is responsive to a change in device and adjusts accordingly meaning that the readability on both mobile and desktop is maintained.
4) Bring down your site load time
When it comes to mobile optimisation, site speed matters a lot. In fact, if your website takes more than 3 seconds to load, it could mean you losing almost half your site visitors.
So if your site takes longer to load, focus on bringing down the load time. To achieve it, you should first look at the visual content on your site and reduce the size of the files, if necessary. Run a website audit to identify what’s causing high loading times and fix the problem. Remember to think mobile-first when optimising site speed.
With the mobile internet usage surpassing desktop, it was clear that Google needed to take a step in that direction to make the experience better for its audience. That’s when the search changed and mobile-first indexing took shape. With its advent, it’s clear that if you aren’t mobile ready yet, you might be missing out on a good chunk of traffic.