How to Optimize your Website for Google’s Mobile First Index

Just like any other industry, the SEO industry is always changing, leading to the emergence of new technologies, practices, and trends. As a result, search engines have to update their algorithms constantly in order to adapt to these changes, thus ensuring that internet users get more relevant search results. In the past few years, one of the trends that have affected the SEO industry is an increase in the number of people who are accessing search engines using mobile devices (source). In response to this, Google, as the leading search engine, has announced plans to provide better and more relevant search results for mobile users by rolling out of the Google’s Mobile First Index system.

What is the Mobile First Index system?

The Mobile First Index system (source) is an update, or rather change, to the search algorithm used by Google when ranking websites. With this change, the search algorithm will rank websites by first looking at the mobile version of a website (or mobile-friendly websites), hence the name Mobile First. This will be a change from the current ranking system, which uses the “desktop first” indexing, where only the desktop versions are considered when ranking websites.

How will the system affect online businesses?

When a significant change or update is made to a search algorithm, for example, how websites are ranked, the SEO industry is bound to be affected greatly. With the mobile-first indexing (source), Google has promised that the effect on SEO will be minimal, given that they will combine both mobile first and desktop first indexing when ranking websites; the search engine bots will first look at the mobile version of a website, and if they cannot find one, use the desktop approach. However, the ultimate objective of Google is to switch completely to the mobile first indexing system, which will affect website owners in the following ways:

  • People without mobile websites

The mobile first indexing system is designed to be a mobile-friendly update to Google’s search algorithm. Therefore, people without a mobile website version or a mobile-friendly desktop website are likely to suffer from this change. On the other hand, people with mobile friendly websites and/or mobile website versions will benefit from the new system.

  • People with less developed mobile websites

Website owners place a lot of focus in developing their desktop websites, and some usually forget to give the same attention to the mobile versions. This leads to a situation where a website owner has a very functional desktop site that will rank high on search engines, but a less developed mobile site with a weak SEO capability. With the new system, these website owners will suffer greatly, as the search algorithm will only consider their mobile site and ignore the desktop one.

How can you prepare your website for Google’s Mobile First Index?

As you can see from the above information, the mobile first indexing system will have a significant impact on how websites are ranked, which will, in turn, affect SEO. Therefore, if you own a website, especially one that is used for your business, you should take necessary measures to prepare yourself for the rolling out of the new ranking system. Below are some tips that can help you prepare for the Google’s Mobile First Index:

  • Build and fully develop a mobile website

One of the best ways to prepare yourself for the rolling out of the mobile first indexing system is to build a mobile website for your online business. This will help to ensure that you reap all the SEO benefits brought about by the system. However, in order to benefit fully, you should ensure that the mobile website is fully functional and has the same or even better features than your desktop website.

  • Make your desktop website more responsive

If you do not have a mobile website, then the best way to prepare yourself for the new indexing system is to make your desktop site as mobile friendly as possible. This will give you the same benefits as someone with a good mobile website. In fact, it is better to have a well-developed, fully functional, mobile responsive website than a half-developed mobile site. However, for the best results, you should ensure that you have both a mobile and a desktop site, which are fully functional.

  • Improve your site’s speed

Website performance is one of the main factors that are considered when ranking websites, especially where mobile devices are concerned. Therefore, when you are optimizing your website for mobile first indexing system, one of the things you will need to improve on is the load speed (source). This will help to ensure that users who are accessing your website with mobile devices have an easier time, thus improving the SEO strength of your website. Some of the ways in which you can improve your website’s load speed include:

  1. Using browser caching – this will help to store the resource files of your website on the local device being used by your visitors, thus ensuring that the website loads faster when they return.
  2. Minifying your website code by removing any unnecessary elements that can lead to slow performance
  3. Optimizing the images on your website to an ideal size
  • Improve your on-page optimization strategy

On-Page optimization is another technique you can use to prepare your website for the rolling out of the mobile first indexing system. By optimizing your web pages for the search engines, you will help to ensure that your website will have a strong SEO strategy, regardless of how the system affects SEO.

Summary

The trend of using mobile devices when accessing information on the internet is becoming more and more popular and it is thus not surprising that Google would want to adapt to this trend by introducing the Mobile First Index system. The new system will help to provide mobile users with better search results, and at the same time, help businesses to tap into this growing customer base. Therefore, if you are an online business owner, you should prepare yourself for the rolling out of the new system by optimizing your website, which will help you to reap the SEO benefits the system offers.

Do you want to take the advantage making your website mobile first for Google? Are you ready to tap the potential of mobile traffic but not sure how to do it? Let us help you!