Over the course of this past year, Google has been slowly but surely enabling websites for mobile-first indexing.
Mobile-first indexing means that Googlebot will now use the mobile version of your site for indexing and ranking…
…Google’s crawling, indexing and ranking systems have historically used the desktop version of your site’s content, which can cause issues for mobile searchers when the desktop version differs from the mobile version…
The email also goes as far as to tell you whether mobile and desktop versions of your site are similar:
…Our analysis indicates that the mobile and desktop versions of your site are comparable.
You should not ignore or dismiss having a mobile-friendly website. If you only have a desktop version of your site then you’ll already be taking a hit in ranking positions, traffic and ultimately revenue.
Google will be rewarding sites that follow mobile best practices now more than ever. Users expect a great experience whether they’re on a desktop or mobile device.
What does mobile-first index mean?
Google crawls websites and returns information to its index (database). There is a desktop index and a mobile index.
As mentioned above, over the course of this year websites have been enabled for mobile indexing as Google replaces the desktop index with the mobile index as its primary index.
Mobile overtakes desktop
According to global web analytics firm StatCounter, mobile traffic overtook desktop for the first time in October 2016.
The StatCounter chart below shows the continuous rise of mobile over desktop usage.
Mobile devices are everywhere you look at home, on the train, on the bus, at work and more. Users want information presented to them in a user-friendly and mobile-optimised format wherever they are and whatever they’re doing.
What has Google done to help with the transition?
Over the past few years, Google has encouraged webmasters and businesses to make their websites mobile-friendly.
Mobilegeddon was the name given to the mobile-friendly algorithm created by industry experts and media sites. The first major algorithm that Google rolled out that favoured mobile-friendly web pages in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) was released in April 2015.
One of the more recent tools released is the ‘Think With Google’ website. It gives you ideas on how to improve your site, as well as testing tools and industry news.
Website speed is a major factor
Other tools include the Test My Site tool which allows you to test your speed on the 3G network and also lets you know the estimated percentage of visitors you’re losing down to your specific website speed. Plus, you can also access a free report.
The Impact Calculator is a useful tool which shows you how site speed can affect the annual revenue generated through your website. Although, it’s only useful if the currency of your country is US Dollars as results are only displayed in this currency at present.
Hopefully, Google will extend this functionality to cater for other currencies. For now, though you will need to convert those dollars into your desired currency.
The speed at which your web pages load on any mobile devices is highly important. This could be the difference between a sale and the loss of a potential new customer.
Back In July 2018, Google released a new algorithm. This one was called the Speed Update. This algorithm does what it says on the tin – so to speak. Websites that load slowly will be affected by this update.