Back in January we told you all about the impending Google Mobile First index and a few weeks ago we started to receive notifications via Google Search Console. These confirmed which sites had been switched to the new Mobile First indexing method – an ongoing process that’s continuing to roll out to all sites.

Why Have Google Changed To Mobile First?

These days way more people browse on mobile devices, and this change in user behaviour means Google wants their indexing to reflect this shift.

When a mobile version of a web page contains less content than the desktop version, arguably, users lose out and may not be able to access key information that would be available on a desktop site. Basically, Google wants all the content available on your desktop site to be available to mobile users too.

You can see what Google themselves revealed about Mobile First indexing way back in 2016 here.

The Impact Of Mobile First Indexing

For most of our clients we’ve not seen much change, but for some there have been small drops in rank and even in traffic. So what can you do if you suspect you’ve been affected adversely by the Mobile First rollout?

We’re going to assume that by now you’ve got yourself a responsive website, and whilst that’s good, it’s not all that matters in relation to Mobile First indexing. The content you display on the responsive version of your website is vitally important.

It’s common practice to hide certain functionality and content from mobile devices. Designers don’t like their websites to appear cluttered and from a usability point of view, that makes sense. So when it comes to designing for the diminutive screen size of say, a typical mobile phone, it’s easy for an interface of that size to become cluttered.

Standard practice on responsive websites therefor has often been to hide content that isn’t deemed critical to the functionality of the website or the user experience.

The trouble is, with the new Mobile First index, Google is seeing and ranking your website based on the content on the responsive version of your site – so if key content is missing, your SEO will suffer.

With this in mind, we are recommending that our clients review their responsive sites to ensure that all the key content and functionality that could impact SEO, is displayed not just for desktop and laptop computers, but for tablets and mobiles too.

Mobile First Index SEO Tips

  • Check Google Search Console for notifications. If your site has been switched to Mobile First you’ll have received a notification here telling you and it will also tell you whether your mobile and desktop sites are compatible.
  • Get your website developer to run a Google Speed Test report comparing mobile to desktop performance. If your mobile performance is significantly worse, the test results will recommend the steps that need to be taken to improve your mobile site.
  • If you don’t already have a responsive website, now is the time to invest in one.
  • Optimise your mobile site for conversions. Start by reviewing the customer journey on your mobile site, make sure you have strong calls to action and that your site guides people through your sales funnel effectively.
  • Review the content on your mobile site and ensure you don’t leave out anything important that’s available on your desktop site.
  • Optimise the media used on the mobile version of your site. Letter box style hero banners can look great on a desktop PC for example but can easily take up way too much space or shrink down to a minute size on a mobile device. Similarly, banners or boxes highlighting key products and services can often be stripped entirely from mobile versions of websites.

Need a hand?

If you are worried and think you might have been adversely affected by the Google Mobile First index, get in touch with us. We can do an audit to determine what’s going on, and can recommend how to turn things around for you.

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