It’s been two years since Google first introduced mobile-first indexing…
Fast forward two years and as we’ve seen more and more websites across the world embrace the mobile web. Last month, Google shared the news that they now use mobile-first indexing for half the pages shown in search results globally.
Inside this article, join us as we provide a recap on what mobile-first indexing is, and how to prepare your website for mobile-first indexing. Our web grower team will also cover what common issues are found in Google mobile evaluations and why mobile-first will be crucial to local businesses with local search engine optimisation. (SEO)
What is Mobile-First Indexing?
With mobile search continuing to surpass desktop search, mobile-first indexing means search engines such as Google will predominantly use the mobile version of your website content for indexing and ranking. Using this algorithm, Google will favour the URL’s that are most appropriate to users based on criteria such mobile experience, quality of content and location who deliver the best possible and relevant experience to a user’s search enquiry.
How to test your website for Mobile-First indexing?
Search Console (Webmaster Tools) has recently undergone a recent transformation. As part of the update, Google have now introduced an easy mobile coverage tool, so you can easily test to see if your website is mobile-friendly.
If you have submitted your website to Search Console, simply sign into your dashboard and click ‘Coverage’ under index. Simply type in the URL you wish to test and Google will provide your coverage results. As you can see in my screenshot, Google is crawling our website as mobile-first indexing.
How To Prepare Your Website For Mobile-First Indexing
- Identify your website is fully responsive by using the free Google mobile test.
- Make sure your website is correctly submitted to Google Search Console – If you have two separate websites (desktop and mobile), or have recently upgraded your website to HTTPS, submit all your URL’s.
- Assess that your website robot.txt file has been submitted and Google can fully crawl and index all pages on your website without anything getting blocked.
- Measure your website speed. As part of our care packages, we offer all our WordPress customers free monthly website speed tests.
Mobile-first indexing common issues
Google are notifying webmasters and website owners when websites are migrating to mobile-first indexing via Search Console. Below are the two most common issues found when Google starts to crawl through your website.
Missing alt-text for images on mobile pages
Many websites have fallen victim to the Google mobile-friendly test for missing alt-text for images on websites. Without any alternative text for images, it becomes harder for Google to understand the context of images that are on your website. It also becomes difficult for users who use screen-readers or who turn images off, presenting a negative user experience.
Example of alternative text within your website code;
Missing structured data on mobile pages
Google uses structured data to help better understand the content on your pages and gathers the information from your website it believes will be useful to a user based on their search enquiry, it also allows Google to highlight your pages in several ways in the search results.
Any non-responsive websites or web developers who only use structured data on desktop versions of your website are starting to run into issues. Due to Google now using mobile-first indexing, it will only crawl the mobile-version for indexing and ranking. This means search engines will miss any structured data only used for desktop as it starts to favour mobile-based users find what they are looking for.
Mobile-First Indexing – Local SEO Notes
Mobile-Friendly and Fast-Loading content are key to those who are looking at ways to perform better in mobile search results.
Structured Data will help search engines better assess what your content is about. Search Engines will only use the mobile-version of the page for indexing and rankings to deliver a better experience to mobile users enquiries.
Search Engines will still show content high in search results that is not mobile-friendly or that is slow to load if it passes other signals that determine the content is the most relevant to a user.
If you do not have a mobile-friendly website or currently have two separate websites, there still time to contact your local web design agency. Simply fill out the contact form enquiry to give our Knutsford office a call on 01565 653 616 and let’s discuss how we can help your website grow!