After years of beta testing Google officially announced the rollout of the long awaited “mobile first” index. This is the first time Google has confirmed it is moving over to the mobile first index. Google has been trying to make the web more mobile friendly for some time now and the “mobile first” update is just another step towards their ultimate goal.
Google announced late last year it was moving a limited number of sites over to the mobile first index, but it now seems like they are now moving sites over on a larger scale. The Google rankings are set to be quite turbulent for some time
Historically Google has analysed websites rankings from a desktop perspective looking at over 200 elements to determine which websites to show for any given search term. With the advent of the “mobile first” index they are flipping the coin and looking at the performance of the mobile version of your site to determine rankings.
So, moving forward the mobile version of your website is going to be the first port of call for Google. This doesn’t mean websites that are not mobile friendly will disappear, but the lack of a mobile friendly version is likely to have a negative impact on rankings in Google.
What does this mean?
This means the mobile version of your website will be classed as the main version Google looks at to determine its rankings within Google’s index. If your website has a mobile version there is no need to panic after this announcement, this just means the focus for optimisation moving forward should be firmly on the mobile experience. If you don’t have a mobile version of your website, now is the time to do so.
The difference between responsive and separate mobile sites…
If your site is responsive you should have everything in place on the mobile version that is currently available on the desktop version, and the main challenge will be to make sure the mobile experience is a good as it can be, i.e. site speed, navigation etc. With a separate mobile site, you will need to make sure the mobile version contains everything the desktop version does, from content through to the mark-up currently contained on the desktop version. This could be a big undertaking depending how seriously you have taken your mobile strategy so far.
The world is moving more and more towards a mobile only experience and this isn’t going to go away, so now is the time to put your mobile strategy top of your list.
Written by Andy Horne, Head of SEO