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Google to Begin Mobile-First Indexing

Updated on June 8, 2024
Posted on October 11, 2017 by Brent Wildman


Google to Begin Mobile-First Indexing


More than half of all internet usage happens on mobile devices and since Google rewards websites that have a great UI/UX experience, it is not surprising they are looking a lot harder at the mobile version of a website and asking, “Is it up to snuff?”


A website with no mobile formatting leads to a weird and cattywampus mobile experience, so Google began placing a greater emphasis on “mobile-friendly” websites in 2015, ranking them higher than unresponsive websites. And, as we learned at HubSpot’s Inbound 2017, experts predict 80% of all internet usage will be mobile by 2019.


Mobile-first indexing is in testing, so let’s get ready by looking at how responsive design and mobile-first design are different and how your business may be affected by it.

Responsive vs. Mobile-First Design


Naturally, a website’s UI/UX experience has always been approached from a desktop computer. It is designed and developed to fit a large screen and then the question is asked, “What will this look like on a mobile device?”


Now that mobile device usage is rapidly becoming our primary internet experience, it is a natural progression to design for mobile and then question whether it looks good on a desktop.


The SEO algorithm is complex, but Google always weighs UI/UX over any other factor and will take traffic source into consideration. Google will give brownie points to websites whose traffic comes mostly from mobile devices and are mobile-first.


In their announcement, Google said, “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.”


A mobile website should be THE website


Websites whose traffic comes mostly from mobile devices will have to adjust by having designers consider the needs of their mobile user first. UI/UX will keep navigation simple and clean. The most important information will be featured and any extra information or complicated navigation can be added to the desktop version.


Complicating navigation also affects the time it takes to load the website and mobile users are less patient than ever before. Most leave a page within 3 seconds if it loads slowly. Geolocating is more important than ever. Mobile users are on the go and want information relevant to where they are.


Another upcoming shift in the mobile experience is voice search. Natural phrases are ranking higher than keywords, so SEO is changing. Already, 20% of search is voice search. Voice search is the future of SEO.


Should I Design my Website Mobile-First?


If the majority of your traffic still comes from a desktop, simply addressing a responsive design may be your best bet. If a website redesign is in a business’ future, and traffic comes from a mobile device at least half the time, it may be time to consider going beyond a responsive design.


Pay close attention to Google Analytics and your website traffic to make a decision that makes sense for your business.


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