Back in October 2016, mobile website views surpassed desktop views for the first time ever. Since then, mobile usage has steadily increased. Americans spend more than 5 hours a day on mobile devices. More than a third of global consumers check their phones within 5 minutes of waking up, and 20 percent look at their phones more than 50 times a day. At least 10 percent of Americans only access the Internet on their phones at home, forgoing a desktop computer altogether. Since we use mobile devices more than desktop for browsing the web, it makes sense that search results relate more to mobile optimization.
In November 2016, Google announced its shift toward “mobile-first indexing”. Instead of using desktop performance to determine search rankings, smartphones are officially king. Many businesses continue to design their websites with desktop users at front of mind, though.
The move toward mobile-friendly indexing is still rolling out, but it will undoubtedly be the norm soon and should be focused on now so that businesses are ready when it applies to them. If your business wants to capture more attention on the web, moving to this mobile mindset is essential. Here’s what mobile-first indexing means for your business, your website and your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.
Mobile-First Indexing Defined
Google defines “mobile” as devices that are smartphones, like those running iPhone, Windows Phone or Android. Mobile in this case does not include tablets.
Some businesses have separate website designs for mobile and desktop versions. Others use a technique like responsive design to make sure that the same website looks great on any device a consumer is using.
Regardless of whether your website works on mobile, several factors affect search ranking signals to Google and presumably other search engines:
- Site speed
- Image loading
- User engagement
If a website is difficult to read, requires zooming and pinching, loads slowly, or doesn’t provide a user journey that keeps visitors engaged on the mobile site, your SEO will likely suffer. This is because Google is using the mobile experience to determine overall search performance.
A website that works perfectly on a desktop but that takes awhile to load on a smartphone will be judged by its negative mobile performance. You don’t want to neglect the desktop user, but you want to design with mobile performance as your main priority.
How to Optimize for Mobile-First Indexing
A fully functional, speedy mobile site that takes consumers on a journey is your ultimate goal for optimal mobile performance. Google states that if a website uses responsive web design and correctly implements dynamic serving, the site will generally already be mobile-friendly. Here are some more best practices.
- Include all your best content on mobile. Blogs, keyword-rich pages and other forms of content marketing should all be easily accessible on mobile. These pages will help you appear more in search results and should definitely be included on a mobile site.
- Mobile sites should have structured data and metadata. This helps indexing, search and serving on search engines.
- Ensure your mobile website loads quickly. Aim to make your site load immediately, since 53 percent of mobile visits are abandoned if pages take more than 3 seconds to load. Google recommends site load speed of less than a second. Use the PageSpeed Insights tool to check site speed.
- Your website should be secure. Implement https:// security on all website versions.
- Test your site on all devices. Since the goal is to make your mobile site one that’s engaging for users on all types of devices, you’ll want to test it on several types. This tool helps you do so.
Additionally, the more time users spend on your mobile site, the more meaningful that data is to search engines. Make the mobile website experience better by:
- Including prominent and easy-to-click calls to action
- Featuring contact information that is easy to access
- Designing with a vertical lay-out in mind
- Avoiding using pop-ups that may annoy mobile users
- Making forms easy to fill out on mobile
Make sure to verify your mobile site in the Google Search Console here. Test to see if your site is mobile-friendly here. This tool shows you any specific problems that are popping up on mobile so you fix them.
Need Help Making Your Site Mobile-First-Friendly?
Making the move to mobile isn’t just a way to play nice with Google and search engines. Ultimately, you’re better serving your customers, because more of them are using mobile more often. If you want your local business to get visited, if you want to sell more goods online, or if you want your content marketing efforts to bring more leads to your company, engaging mobile user experiences are essential.
There are so many more elements that can help you optimize your mobile website. Get a free consultation about what improvements can be made to your business website design to make it more mobile-friendly. Contact AlphaMind Studios online or at (303) 832-8193 for more information.