Taking a look at mobile-first indexing

19 Jul 2018

Google has introduced ‘mobile-first indexing’, and has been rolling it out since the end of March. Mobile-first indexing is a new way that Google analyses searches on its system, and prioritises mobile-responsive websites containing mobile-friendly content.

What does ‘mobile-first indexing’ mean?

Mobile-first indexing ranks websites that are mobile-friendly (or ‘mobile-responsive’) above desktop (or ‘non-responsive’) sites within Google search results. It is mobile-first and not ‘mobile-only’ indexing, so desktop sites are still included in rankings. No matter whether you are using a desktop or a mobile device to browse the internet, Google’s mobile-first ‘crawl, index and rank’ system will prioritise mobile-friendly sites above all others.

What is a mobile-responsive website?

When you open a website, depending on the type of device you use, it should adapt to fully display on your device - you no longer need to scroll across to read every sentence, or zoom out so that the text or images fit your screen.

Why have these changes been made?

As a result of a significant increase in the availability and accessibility of mobile devices, more and more people are now using smartphones to search the internet. In order to make their experience satisfying, Google displays websites that are mobile-responsive higher in its search engine optimisation (SEO) rankings, with desktop-only sites appearing lower down the list.

How will mobile-first indexing affect my website?

In order to ensure that your website is not adversely affected by the new ranking system, you will need to make sure your website is mobile-responsive. If you have two versions of a website (for example, a mobile-friendly website that has less content than a desktop version), Google will most likely only see and display the mobile-friendly version when your clients carry out a search.

Utilising a website that has a responsive design is, therefore, essential, as this will display the same content as a desktop site, but is adapted for smartphone and tablet users, as well as those viewing on a desktop computer. To check if your website is mobile-responsive, simply visit this website.

Taking page speed into consideration

Meanwhile, Google also revealed that website pages that load slowly may not perform as well for those using mobile devices, and may have a ‘negative impact’ on a site’s SEO rankings. As a result, from the beginning of July 2018, Google started to roll out a ‘speed update’, which takes into account the page speed of mobile-responsive websites, and ranks sites that load quickly above those that do not. You may wish to take this into consideration when designing and creating your own mobile-friendly site, in order to help improve your chances of appearing at the top of Google’s rankings.

As you can see, there are many issues to consider when designing and creating a website. If you are looking to obtain a new website or refresh your existing one, Practice Track Online supplies a range of website packages designed specifically for accountancy practices. For more information, please call 0800 181 343, or email info@practicetrackonline.co.uk.

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