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Do you have a responsive website? I know, I know—we’ve asked this a million times in past blog posts, but right now it’s more important than ever. Why? Google is rolling out the new mobile-first index. So if you don’t have a responsive site, or at least an awesome mobile site, it’ll be worse than no turkey mashed potatoes, stuffing, and apple pie on Thanksgiving.
What to Know About the Mobile-First Index from the Big G
There is a great FAQ article about Google’s new mobile-first index on Search Engine Land, but I just want to reiterate a few key points. Let me start with what this index actually means. Basically, Google will create and rank search listings based on the mobile version of content, even for listings shown to desktop users. Basically, get your (mobile website) s*** together!
Here are six important takeaways:
- Improve mobile site speed. “Google will rank your mobile and desktop sites based on signals they get from crawling your site from a mobile view. So the page speed of your mobile site will determine the rankings of your mobile site and desktop site in Google.” Don’t necessarily forget desktop site speed all together (especially since there will be both a desktop-first and mobile-first index during this initial roll-out period), but definitely make sure your mobile site speed is top-notch. Users are way more likely to ditch a slow site, and this is particularly true when they are on their phones.
- Make sure Google can see and crawl your mobile content. “The best way is to use the Fetch and Render tool in the Google Search Console. Specify the mobile:smartphone user-agent and look at the preview after the fetch and render is complete. What Google shows you in the rendered results is likely what Google can see and index from your mobile site. If content is missing, then you should look into how to fix that and run the tool again.”
- Optimize for mobile. “Google will also likely look at your title, H1s, structured data and other tags and content generated from your mobile site, and use them over your desktop site.” If you have a separate mobile site, make sure your title tags, h1s, and subheadings are well optimized (and keep in mind that shorter title tags and meta descriptions are ideal for mobile). But really, strongly consider moving from separate mobile site to responsive design (recommendation straight from Google!).
- Implement structured data correctly. Use structured data (for both mobile and desktop) but be sure you do it correctly. “When adding structured data to a mobile site, avoid adding large amounts of markup that isn’t relevant to the specific information content of each document.” The best part about this? If you have a responsive site, you shouldn’t need to change anything (but make sure you’re implementing structured data—you can use it for a lot of different things, from business type and address to mobile, reviews, videos, and more).
- Consider making your site secure. Did you know 40% of Google’s page one organic search results feature an HTTPS site? Although Google’s index may be changing, they still want to show the best results—and if users trust secure sites more, guess what Google will be ranking more? They are already moving in that direction.
- Monitor for hacks and back up your site. Users are probably not going to click through to a website from the search engine results pages if there is a “this site may be hacked” message. Nobody wants a virus, least of all on their phone. Stay on top of your site’s technical side (using Google Search Console, Analytics, etc.) and fix hacks or any other problems right away. It helps to back up your site.
Aside from the best practices for any type of site—such as hacks and security—keep in mind that if you have a responsive site, many changes won’t even be needed. This is why Google recommends you go with a responsive approach! The content is the same on a page-by-page basis from your desktop to your mobile site.
Need Website Help?
Perhaps your website needs a little (or a lot of) TLC. No matter what shape it’s in, you can count on the Blue Corona team. Not only can we design you an attractive, responsive site but we’ll also make sure it’s well optimized and able to be crawled. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you!
About The Author: Alanna is a content marketing specialist with Blue Corona. When she's not doubling and tripling website traffic and leads for remodeling companies, she enjoys reading and working out.
View more blogs by Alanna Potosky