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Google’s Mobile First Index: How does it impact me?

Are you ready for Google’s Mobile First Index?

The term started appearing in articles online last year with word that Google would be going “mobile first”. That is, when it comes to crawling websites, it’s mobile first, and desktop second.

So for bloggers on older, clunky themes, or websites with outdated designs, what is the impact? To look at that, let’s look at what Google’s Mobile First Index is.

Google’s Mobile First Index: What we know

First off, mobile traffic globally is surging.

I was amazed a few years ago, combing through Google Analytics, that mobile traffic for some of my sites was around 10% or 15%. Nowadays, some of those sites are running at 85% to 91%. With figures like that, mobile optimisation is vital, and Google is rewarding it.

We also know that older websites and blogs now carry alerts in search results to say that they’re not mobile friendly. Do you really want that for your business or online presence?

Now, Google is moving mobile optimised sites and blogs, to their new mobile first index. That means a priority for mobile over desktop. Which means, it’s time to start thinking about getting optimised for mobile browsers.

What can mobile optimisation do for you? Photo: NeONBRAND/Unsplash

What can mobile optimisation do for you? Photo: NeONBRAND/Unsplash

But what does that all mean for me?

What it boils down to is your website being indexed in Google’s search results, depending on how Google sees your site perform on a mobile browser.

If it’s seamless, there’s no worries. However, if it struggles, there will be penalties. Those penalties could see your site or blog slip down the rankings. That could spell lower traffic, decreased leads, decreased revenues and opportunities for you, your business or your blog.

Google’s Tips To Get Mobile Ready

From their official Webmaster Central Blog, Google have the following tips to make sure your website is mobile ready.

  • Make sure the mobile version of the site also has the important, high-quality content. This includes text, images (with alt-attributes), and videos – in the usual crawlable and indexable formats.
  • Structured data is important for indexing and search features that users love: it should be both on the mobile and desktop version of the site. Ensure URLs within the structured data are updated to the mobile version on the mobile pages.
  • Metadata should be present on both versions of the site. It provides hints about the content on a page for indexing and serving. For example, make sure that titles and meta descriptions are equivalent across both versions of all pages on the site.
  • No changes are necessary for interlinking with separate mobile URLs (m.-dot sites). For sites using separate mobile URLs, keep the existing link rel=canonical and link rel=alternate elements between these versions.
  • Check hreflang links on separate mobile URLs. When using link rel=hreflang elements for internationalization, link between mobile and desktop URLs separately. Your mobile URLs’ hreflang should point to the other language/region versions on other mobile URLs, and similarly link desktop with other desktop URLs using hreflang link elements there.
  • Ensure the servers hosting the site have enough capacity to handle potentially increased crawl rate. This doesn’t affect sites that use responsive web design and dynamic serving, only sites where the mobile version is on a separate host, such as m.example.com.

Test your website to check it’s mobile friendly

Are you now wondering if your site is mobile friendly? Thankfully, there’s a handy free tool for that. Google’s mobile-friendly test will give you a full rundown on how your website or blog performs under mobile conditions.

Ideally, you would see something like this.

Google Mobile First Index: This page is mobile-friendly

Google Mobile First Index: This page is mobile-friendly

If your site isn’t performing up to scratch, then you’re likely to see this instead.

Google Mobile First Index: This page is not mobile friendly

Google Mobile First Index: This page is not mobile friendly

Use the Google Mobile Friendly Test tool to find out how your site performs.

What can I do now?

The shift to the mobile first index is already underway and more and more sites will be joining it in 2018 before it’s mobile first all the way.

My advice:

  • Test to see if your site is mobile ready. If it is – great.
  • If not, make the adjustments you need.
  • Follow the Google tips above ensuring you give similar experiences and the same content across desktop and mobile
  • Test again, and relax in the knowledge you’re better equipped now than you were last week.

Found this article helpful? Leave a comment below and let me know if you have any queries or questions. If you’re looking for further reading and fancy food or music, check out Ken On Food and KilkennyMusic.com.

Broadcaster and sports writer at KCLR96FM; digital media head with a production eye on theatre, film and video; Read my Irish food blog, Ken On Food.

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