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Patterned After Mobile: How Google’s Mobile-First Index Changes the Industry

When mobile apps first started gaining popularity, web developers made sure they provided the same experience as business websites. Web developers worked to make web content interactive and easily accessible on mobile. The increasing popularity of mobile apps, however, caused a shift in the paradigm. Now, websites aim to provide a responsive app-like experience for visitors.

In line with this, Google introduces the mobile-first index which prioritizes mobile-friendliness on search engine rankings. It solidifies the notion that mobile is at the heart of digital marketing strategies.

Google Rolls Out the Mobile-First Index

Google initially used the desktop version of websites to gauge content for indexing and ranking. It decided to focus more on mobile, though, when the majority of Google users started using their mobile devices to access the search engine. It considered using the mobile-first index to evaluate the relevance of a web page to the user’s query. In other words, moving forward, the index will use the mobile version of web content.

Business website owners, digital marketers and web developers do not have to be on the edge about this change in indexing.  Google will transition websites slowly for the benefit of site owners and visitors alike. It will evaluate websites individually on their readiness for mobile-first indexing; the transition will occur only when the site is ready.

What Does Mobile-First Indexing Imply?

Mobile-first indexing refers to the indexing process that Google recently introduced. With it, Googlebot crawls and indexes the mobile version of websites. To put it simply, a website’s mobile version becomes the baseline of the search engine’s process of determining page rankings.

Take note that Google calls the indexing process “mobile-first” and not “mobile-only.” The search engine understands that not all websites have a mobile-friendly version yet. It still considers desktop sites for indexing, but the lack of a mobile-friendly experience may negatively affect site ranking. Alternatively, a website that provides a great mobile experience may rank higher even for desktop users.

What Should Be the Approach to Mobile-First Indexing?

Mobile-first indexing is going to change the way Google determines a website’s ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). Nevertheless, there is no need to panic or to change an online marketing strategy completely. The search engine did say that it will roll out the new process gradually — and only to websites that it deems ready for a new process that will not take a severe toll on SERP rankings.

While the indexing process is still in the trial stage, website owners and web developers should start working toward better site responsiveness. However, if the website is as responsive on mobile as it is on desktop, then there may not be a need for a drastic change at all.

The Digital Landscape Leans Toward Responsive Strategies

Often enough, people opt to use their smartphones rather than their desktop to pull up the Google search engine. The mobile-first indexing process is a result of the increasing use of mobile devices to access the search engine. As such, with the introduction of the new process, site responsiveness and mobile-friendliness become more relevant than ever.

A fully responsive site has everything that site visitors may need or want to look at. All the content in a responsive site is present in both the desktop and mobile versions of the site. In this case, the main challenge is formulating a streamlined mobile experience for the user. This experience includes various aspects that contribute to their satisfaction with the website: mobile page speed, loading time and ease of navigation.

Alternatively, businesses that have a separate mobile site may check the following factors that may help them rank higher on Google:

  • Content
  • Structured data
  • Metadata
  • Sitemaps
  • Google Search Console verification
  • App indexation
  • Server capacity

Moreover, a separate mobile site must contain everything that the desktop website has. It must also optimize the images and similar dynamic elements that might otherwise slow down the user experience.

With the emergence of the mobile-first indexing process, websites must be more responsive than ever. After all, site responsiveness, along with accessibility, draws people into accessing the mobile version of websites.

The Indexing Process Is in Line with Mobile Device Trends

Smartphones have advanced connectivity and computing capabilities that other types of mobile phones do not. They started to rise in popularity with the release of the very first Apple iPhone in 2007. Since then, technological giants and mobile phone manufacturers continue to develop and improve smartphones that will win over their target market.

The popularity of smartphones — of different sizes and from different brands — is evident in Canada. The smartphone market benefits from the various reasons Canadians use smartphones:

  • Making phone calls
  • Sending text messages
  • Taking photos and videos
  • Checking the time and weather
  • Looking at and replying to emails
  • Browsing different websites
  • Visiting social networks
  • Looking up directions

A Statista forecast shows a noticeable increase of smartphone users in Canada from 2013 to 2022. The number of users reached 24.02 million in 2017 and may reach over 29.34 million by 2022. With many smartphones available on the market, therefore, people will increasingly use mobile devices and mobile browsing will continue to increase in the coming years.

More people are using their mobile devices to interact with brands or search for products and services. As such, Google’s mobile-first index correlates to the emerging dominance of smartphones. It effectively attracts a business’s target market by incorporating mobile-friendliness to a digital strategy.

Capture the Audience with a Great Digital Strategy

WebWaves.ca is a digital marketing agency that shines the spotlight on small businesses across Canada and the United States. It provides web design and development solutions that make client websites stand out among competitor sites.

The agency’s digital services are not smoke and mirrors; clients get exactly what they expect — and maybe even more. As a result, small businesses can trust the agency to help them switch to a more mobile-friendly online marketing strategy. Get in touch via phone or contact form, today, for a free consultation on mobile-first web design.

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