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Get Google’s Mobile First Indexing Right

Let Spark get you “mobile-first” ready.

Why now?

It is estimated that by 2025 (in four years’ time!) more than 70% of the world’s population will access the internet solely on their mobile phone. Furthermore, the time spent accessing the internet on mobile will significantly grow more than the time spent on desktop. This mobile shift has been happening for a few years now, but the pandemic has accelerated this even more. It’s no surprise then that search engine giant Google has announced its mobile-first indexing. This has been an ongoing effort since 2020 and the deadline has been set for the full shift by March 2021 for the change. In a nutshell, this means that only the content that exists on the mobile version of a website will be indexed and ranked. Google won’t have a separate mobile and desktop index. There will only be one – and mobile will be given absolute priority. Furthermore, you can’t opt out of Google’s mobile first!

What is mobile first?

By March 2021, Google will be 100% mobile first. What exactly does this mean? To put it simply, mobile first web design means designing for the best possible user experience in the smallest of screens – the mobile phone. Mobile sites used to be watered down versions of the desktop website. With this shift, mobile takes precedence over desktop.

Who should be looking at “mobile first”?

Businesses of all industries and sizes depend heavily on their website. Mobile first web design should be a critical component of any business’ digital strategy. It has been said a thousand times before, users who “search” for a specific keyword, product or service, have the highest intent to purchase. With the fight for the share of the organic search results pie significantly increasing, those not quick enough to take action could soon say goodbye to their beloved first page ranking, and your hot leads!

Just launched a new website, do I need to care about mobile first?

One of the most basic principles in mobile first web design is having equivalent content for desktop and mobile. If you have just launched a new website, or undergone a major redesign, and you are offering the same experience and content on both platforms, then you may not need to do anything. However, if you have not done any updates in a while, or your existing site was built on an older platform, it might be worth double checking.

Why is the “mobile first” principle so important in web design?

In 2010, then Google CEO Eric Schmidt said this about mobile web design: “What’s really important right now is to get the mobile architecture right. Mobile will ultimately be the way you provision most of your services. The way I like to put it is, the answer should always be mobile-first.” There is significantly much less space on a mobile screen, making it more limited. This means you have to be more strategic in the elements you choose to include (and not include) and the hierarchy of information you show. For instance, a video that you want Google to show in search results, should always be prominently displayed, high up on the page. Another example is image quality – low res images may not be selected on Google images or shown favourably when indexed. In addition, hovers as a feature are not “read” on mobile devices, so best to find an alternative.

What’s really important right now is to get the mobile architecture right. Mobile will ultimately be the way you provision most of your services. The way I like to put it is, the answer should always be mobile-first.

- Eric Shmidt

What can Spark do for you?

If you’re feeling a bit anxious about mobile-first, we got your back! The good news is that Google has defined mobile-first best practices for developers and Spark is more than happy to assist! We’ll check your website and report on Googlebot visibility, structured data, visual content and more so you know exactly what needs to be done to get your website optimised. This free, no-obligation audit is being offered for a limited time. Call us today or click the banner below to request your free website audit.

Let Spark get you “mobile-first” ready.

How to practice “mobile first”: The 5 things you need to observe

Responsiveness

Your websites should always offer the same content and experience from the smallest screen to your average desktop.

Page Speed

Fast loading sites will always be favoured by search engines. Your web developer should always optimise your site to achieve the best page speed.

Keep It Simple

With limited real estate on mobile, keep things simple for the user. Do not overwhelm your site with too many animations, pop-ups or content they don’t need. Practice restraint!

Make It Easy To Navigate

It’s the “battle of the thumbs” on mobile - the easier and quicker the user can navigate your site (with their thumbs!) the better! Invest time in really thinking about primary elements that need to be front and centre, and hide secondary elements in easy to find navigational buttons.

Always Think About The User

Bottomline, websites that users love to use will always get indexed and ranked. So when all has been said and done, always aim for the user’s satisfaction.