A New Way to Rank: Mobile-first Indexing to Reshape the Web

With Google switching to mobile-first indexing from September this year, it has never been more important to make sure your site is mobile-friendly!


What does mobile-first indexing mean?  

Well, in order for mobile-first indexing to make sense, you should first probably know a little bit about how Google works…

There are a whole host of different elements that affect how your site ranks on Google – your page titles, the keywords you use on your pages, and the site’s navigation all play a key part in getting your site to prime position. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a vast topic, with parameters that are constantly shifting, and a sea of technicalities and ‘if’ clauses that we won’t bore you with here. But basically, this is how Google works:

Google has these automated bots, or spiders, which are constantly crawling the internet to find new content. This content might be a webpage, image, PDF or video (to name a few formats), but all are discovered via links. Once a spider finds one webpage, it will crawl the code and continue to follow a path of links to discover others, indexing the content into the search engine’s massive database of discovered URLs as it goes along.

When a user types out a search in Google’s search bar, Google will refer back to its index of URLs and dig out the webpages which have the content it thinks is most relevant to the user’s search terms. Google will then rank those webpages, with the most relevant content being placed on the first page, allowing users to access the information they’ve been looking for quickly.

Up until now, Google’s bots have prioritised crawling the desktop versions of websites, so webpages have been indexed and ranked according to their content as it appears on a desktop. But, with more and more people now searching the web on mobile devices, Google now plans to have its bots index and rank mobile page content first.

Why is Google switching to mobile-first indexing now?

As the times have changed, with a vast proportion of the global population now carrying around a smartphone everywhere they go, recent statistics suggest that over half of web traffic worldwide is accounted for by mobile searches. To put a number on it, this year, 51.53% of website traffic across the world has been generated by mobile devices (excluding tablets).

If Google is a pro at providing the information we need at the click of a button, its teams are equally good at monitoring our searching habits and adapting algorithms accordingly. The data on mobile web traffic has seen figures hover around the 50% mark consistently for the last three years, and as this number is expected to steadily rise over the coming years, Google’s search rankings will now consider how your site performs on mobile before indexing its desktop counterpart.

A new way to rank – how will Google’s mobile-first indexing affect me?

 The webmasters at Google have announced their findings that most sites which appear in search results now are actually good to go for mobile-first indexing. However, some will still need some work, and those that do won’t be switched to mobile-first indexing until Google’s systems recognise that they’re ready.

As your website’s rank on Google will be determined by the content on its mobile version, it’s important to make sure your site is performing at optimum on mobile devices. Google doesn’t like slow websites, or websites that aren’t updated regularly, so these are also important factors to consider when thinking about the mobile and desktop versions of your website.

Google has also recommended that the content shown on your site should be the same, whether it’s being viewed on a desktop or mobile device. This refers to text, images, videos and links, as well as meta data (titles and descriptions) and structured data.

There are a number of other considerations to make when double checking that your site is mobile-friendly and ready to go. If you’re gearing up for the switch to mobile-first indexing and you’re looking for an experienced web design agency to give you a hand, look no further! With over 10 years of experience in website design and development, content creation, graphic design, and digital marketing, we’re here to help you get ready for the mobile takeover. Get in touch today to find out more how we can help.



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