What does Google’s mobile first index mean for businesses?
The way that you measure normal website interactivity metrics is about to change and the design that you love is about to be shaken up. Have you been trying to increase the time spent on site with your visitors? Are the number of pages visited by a visitor on the top of your list of things to improve?
Throw them out the window!
As Google’s mobile first index rolls out, it also signals a massive tipping point where most of the traffic a site sees is via mobile device. People are spending less time on sites via mobile devices and they are accessing fewer pages.
With a smaller screen and less time, the complexity of websites changes. And that’s good news for a time and resource strapped business. The challenge isn’t how do we build as many pages as possible, but rather, how do we organize content that is relevant and useful in a digestible way.
What does this mobile first concept mean and how does it change how my site is built and manage?
In the past google always crawled a website and used that data to bring up search results. If a site was mobile friendly, great! But it didn’t gain much of an advantage just because it was responsive. Now, with the mobile first index Google expects the site to be mobile friendly and responsive and they will use that experience in their crawl to determine how to rank your website.
What can you do to be better prepared for the mobile first index?
- Take a hard look at your site and the platform that it is on and determine how mobile friendly it really is and if it’s not, plan to make adjustments. The time to go responsive has passed and being mobile friendly is assumed by Google today.
- Start looking at mobile site design strategies to organize content better. Tactics like accordions, and tabs work well and they keep content organized while not taking up too much space on a page.
- Can you condense content from 2-3 pages into one? Do it. Can you remove marketing language from your mobile site that is replicated across the site (like in the footer or header)? Do it.
- Technical clean-up of old mobile-url specific pages and rel=canonical tags will make sure that Google sees the content that you want them to see.