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Mobile First Indexing for SME Owners

When it comes to marketing, online is essential nowadays which means that small to medium sized business owners need a website to showcase their products or services.  Building a great website is only the first step though – you need to make sure your website is “visible” – that’s to say that Google (and other search engines) can easily find your website.  Getting your website to the front page of Google’s search rankings will have a hugely beneficial effect on your business and its profitability.

You may have come across the term “mobile-first indexing” and could be wondering what this means and how it affects your business website.  Google used to use a process based on desktop-first indexing which works as follows:

  • Google crawls your desktop website before looking at anything else.
  • Google then uses the information it collected to determine your desktop and mobile search rankings.
  • A mobile site gave a bonus to the mobile search rank, but its effect on your ranking was largely supplementary.

The mobile-first indexing process differs in the following ways:

  • Google crawls your mobile website first and then uses the information gathered to determine the search rankings for your mobile and desktop sites.
  • If you don’t have a mobile version of your website, Google will crawl the desktop version instead of a mobile site.

Mobile-first indexing represents a paradigm shift in the way Google approaches search engine rankings because mobile websites are now considered the normal, default website.  If you already have a functioning mobile website, there are a few issues to consider to ensure that it is fully optimised for mobile-first indexing.

  • Use Google Analytics (GA) and install it on your mobile app (easily done using a SDK code which can be implemented by using third party platforms) so that you can identify any areas that need improvement.
  • Make sure your mobile page speed and load times are low – long load times are one of the issues that may cause Google to de-rank your site.
  • Bring over the high quality content on your desktop website, including text, videos and images.  Avoid using extremely high resolution images though as these could increase page load times.
  • Keep the same structured data mark-up the same as on your desktop website, but make sure that any URLs displayed are changed to link to their corresponding mobile versions.
  • Use equivalent meta descriptions and titles on your mobile site but optimise the mobile versions by giving them shorter character counts.  Include the social metadata on your mobile site too.
  • Verify your mobile site with Google Search Console.
  • If your mobile site is hosted differently than your desktop site, make sure the host servers are ready to handle a higher crawl rate.

If you don’t have the necessary experience in mobile web design to implement these changes or you’re struggling to understand what you need to do, why not consider using the services of a web development agency to carry out the work for you.  This will help to keep your business ahead of the competition when it comes to mobile search.