How to take advantage of Google’s Mobile-First Index
It is an open secret that mobile usage is on the rise and more and more users are accessing internet via their mobile phones. But where are the numbers?
As per Statista, a premier statistics and research website, there were nearly 200 billion app downloads worldwide, up from 150 billion in the previous year. Going by the pace at which app downloads are increasing the number would touch 350 billion by the year 2021.
Web traffic from mobile and tablet devices is already giving a tough competition to desktop traffic. Websites such as BrightEdge and many others are reporting that mobile access has already overtaken desktop access! Search Engine Journal has recently reported that 57% of all web searches is from mobile devices.
Search engine giant Google has already announced that it has rolled out mobile first index. Here is what the official blog has to say, “Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results.”
Mobile First Indexing
As per Google, more people are searching using mobile devices than desktop and it intends to cater to users’ aspirations. The official statement says, ‘more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan.’ This essentially means that what we have been anticipating for years is finally happening and the search engine giant is turning gears.
From now on Google will index the mobile version of a website before the desktop version. Whether or not a website has a mobile version is going to have a big impact on the search engine ranking of the same and those webmasters who have missed the train are not going to like the impact.
What does that mean for an average webmaster like you?
If you haven’t prepared your site for mobile access, you would end up losing to your competitors who have done that already
If your site is optimized for mobile, you have got a heads-up against your competitors who haven’t
What you are going to do now?
Here is what you are going to do if you want to stay relevant and competitive with respect to online search rankings.
Check whether your website is mobile ready or not: Navigate to this link (https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly) provided by Google to check whether your web page is mobile friendly or not. Just enter your website link and press ‘Run Test’. Your website will be thoroughly analyzed and the results will be presented within a minute or two. If the test throws up a less than pleasing result, you have got a problem at hand to fix.
Check how fast (or slow) your website loads on mobile devices: Would you like to visit a website that takes ages to load? Well, your customers are not going to like your website as well if it does not load fast enough. You need to figure out if the heavy images or certain features of the website are holding it up from loading quickly.
Check how well the website opens on mobile: Have you opened your own website on your mobile device? Preferably open the same on multiple devices of various screen sizes just to check its performance over a range of devices. You can never guess what devices your potential customers are going to use to access your website. Hence, it pays to be well prepared in advance.
Is your mobile website same as the desktop version or is a watered down version of the same? You need to check whether all set of features are available on the mobile version as the desktop version. The former should not be a watered down version of the latter. Given the mobile first approach of Google, and most of the users, you would not want to present a second grade website to the world.
Are there any features such as hover elements? There are a number of features such as hover elements that do not have support on mobile devices yet. Hence, it would be a good idea to do away with such elements that can cause problem when accessing on mobile devices.
Test, test and more tests: Test your website on a variety of mobile devices. Test a lot and then test some more. Your website is going to have only a few seconds to impress your visitors and hold them back. If you miss the first impression, you would miss the train.
Flash is dead, so avoid it completely and opt for newer technologies such as HTML5 instead: Flash was dead long back and there is no point using it for mobile. If you happen to commit this blasphemy your website visitors are going to be presented with an odd looking Flash related website instead of your ‘impressive’ design.
Avoid pop ups: Pop ups can really jeopardize user experience and you would not want to do that. If you really can, avoid pop ups altogether.
Avoid heavy graphics: Heavy graphics can render the website quite slow and your visitors aren’t going to like that even a bit. If you want to present a nice user experience, try limiting the size of the graphics. Sit with your designer (or do it on your own if you are handling without external help) and optimize the size of the graphics. As a thumb rule, image files with JPG extension are preferred over the heavier PNG files for this very reason.
As discussed above, there is a lot more than what meets the eye when it comes to mobile search. The future is already here and your competitors might be already miles ahead of you. If you haven’t prepared for it do it now lest you do not want the rewards of huge clientele.
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