Is your website mobile optimised or just mobile-friendly?
From this month, Google’s mobile-first algorithm will be coming into play – switching to mobile-first indexing for all websites.
And according to information released from Google, 70% of sites have already switched to mobile-first indexing.
If your website is not optimised to be mobile-first, you could see a dip in site performance and traffic.
To ensure your website is recognised as mobile-first by Google’s systems, it’s important to take steps now to protect your future.
Take the time to analyse your website and make any necessary changes and optimisations in time for the switch.
What is the new update all about?
Inline with its name, the upcoming algorithm is changing the way Google indexes websites, giving more priority to mobile-first websites over desktop.
The algorithm update was due to originally be rolled out in September 2020 but due to these uncertain times, Google pushed it back, stating: “It’s not always easy to focus on work as otherwise, so we’ve decided to extend the (algorithm) timeframe to the end of March 2021.”
Previously Google viewed desktop traffic as a priority, however recent reports show mobile usage is outgrowing desktop usage.
Compared to other search engines, Google also has the highest share of organic mobile search traffic (54%) – something that is predicted to continue rising over the next couple of years.
How can I prepare for mobile indexing?
Even if your website is friendly to mobile users, that might not automatically mean Google will recognise you on their optimised index.
There are many areas to consider to ensure your website is optimised for mobile users, however the below three steps are a good place to start.
1. Make sure your website design is mobile-optimised
There is a definite difference between being ‘mobile-friendly’ and ‘mobile optimisation’, and it’s important you’re aiming for the latter.
Mobile optimisation is true responsive-mobile design. Things are not just shrunken or rearranged when viewing on a smaller screen size.
Instead, content will resize for multiple screens, resolutions and orientations to provide visitors with just as good a browsing experience as using a desktop.
Consider your website design, is it providing the best possible experience for your users?
2. Get content ready for mobile viewing
It’s not just your design that should be mobile-optimised, but also your content.
If your pages are content heavy, it places a burden on your audience to wade through it on a small screen. By considering their experience more when developing mobile content, it will satisfy both your users and Google’s algorithm.
Make sure you’re optimising paragraphs and sentence lengths for mobile users, along with any images or videos used.
Also, if the mobile version of your website has less content than your desktop version, you should ensure your primary content (the reason for users to visit your website) is included.
That said, you should ensure you are keeping important content – while your mobile site’s content doesn’t have to be identical to your desktop site’s content, important content should still be present.
Removing smaller features like email opt-ins won’t have a major impact from an SEO point of view, but excluding things purely because it feels too long for a mobile layout can have a negative impact.
Navigation and links
An example of essential content you want to ensure you keep are internal links. Make sure that all of the important links still exist on your mobile version as removing these could negatively impact your rankings as they may change how Google judges the value of your website pages.
3. Optimise your speed and reduce errors
With the mobile-first algorithm, site speed will be more important than ever before.
According to Google, 53% of mobile users will leave a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load.
Ideally your website’s load time for both desktop and mobile will be under 1 second, but under 3 seconds is still acceptable.
If your website is slow to load, you risk time-poor users clicking off and your bounce rate increasing. Something that will be a red flag for Google.
It’s important to pay attention to how quickly your page content loads, your browsers response to user input, and the stability of your content as it loads.
Get prepared for the mobile-first algorithm update
Make sure your website doesn’t suffer from a decline in traffic or penalising from Google. Discover how to optimise your design and content for mobile with a detailed website audit and get ready for the roll out.