Google’s Mobile Index is about to change everything when it comes to search engine marketing.
But what is Google’s Mobile Index, and do you need to prepare? We came up with a handy guide to mastering the mobile index and keeping your site at the top.
Let’s start with covering what mobile-first indexing is and how it works.
How Mobile-First Indexing Works
Back in October, Google announced that it will be splitting up its index between desktop and mobile.
On top of that, they made it clear that the mobile index is going to be Google’s primary index, and the desktop index will not receive as much care nor as many updates.
It makes sense why Google has decided to go in this direction. More than 50% of all Google searches are executed via mobile devices.
Google is investing in its users, for sure. The index for mobile searches has needed an update for a while, and it looks like the plan to index mobile searches separately could lead to an improved user experience.
So how will this affect you? Well, if you have a website, you may need to change your search engine marketing plan.
Even if your website is pristinely mobile-friendly, your content may not be specifically optimized for the new search engine update.
Google still hasn’t released a ton of information on this upcoming change as of yet, so we don’t suggest panicking. However, there are some things you can do to prepare for the big mobile-desktop split.
How To Prepare Your Site For Mobile Indexing
These tips can help you prepare for the upcoming changes we’re going to see from Google’s mobile indexing.
Work On Your Structured Markup
Google made it clear the importance of structured markup when it announced the mobile index change.
Huge amounts of markup should be avoided whenever excessive markup is not needed for a specific document.
Check the markup of your landing pages– ideally, you should only have one maximum markup per page.
By reducing markup, Google can identify what the primary content of the landing page is in a more timely fashion.
Register With The Search Console
If you have a secondary mobile page and haven’t done so already, head on over to the Google Search Console and verify it.
Mobile subdomains that include www (as well as those that don’t) need to be properly verified so that Google knows that you have a separate mobile version.
Don’t worry about changing up canonicals, either. If you have a responsible page with primary content and structure that matches the desktop version, Google doesn’t need you to make any changes.
Analyze Your Pages With The Mobile User Agent
Even if you think your page is super mobile-friendly, it may not be as up to par as you think. Cookie messages, download banners, and other unsavory elements could be affecting the quality of your mobile page– and Google is going to definitely use stricter evaluation on mobile pages with these imperfections within the next few months.
This is why investing in a mobile user agent to evaluate your mobile site ahead of time is so important.
You can determine if your page is user-friendly, loads quickly, and has little visual imperfections that hinder your mobile page’s usability.
There are a ton of analyzing optimization tools out there that you can use, and Google has one as well.
Compare Your Desktop Visibility With Your Mobile Visibility
The basic idea behind Google’s mobile index change is that it is going to judge websites based on their mobile versions over their desktop version.
Because of this, it’s important to assess how well your website performs in the mobile search results.
To do this, set up a monitoring program to compare both versions of your website.
Add Some More Content
In the past, website owners avoided generating long content mobile pages due to the need to reserve text and keywords for desktop content.
Now that Google is giving the mobile index most of the power, it’s time to update your mobile pages with the same content as your desktop pages.
Long form content doesn’t necessarily mean you need to create big chunks of content on your mobile pages.
In fact, creating bookmarks and links to important areas can be used to direct your users to spots that fluidly follow what they’ve been reading.
In that same vein, you should make sure you’re generating the appropriate content.
Many owners of sites only ensure their desktop site’s mobile-friendliness by checking to see if it renders properly on mobile devices. What needs to be considered is whether or not their mobile sites are showing the right content.
Websites that are considered mobile-friendly are sectioned into columns with the mobile device displaying a full single column for the user to scroll in a parallel direction.
What this means is that content being displayed may look totally different from the actual site’s content.
And what will this result in? You guessed it– users leaving your site because it’s too clunky.
By using Google’s Search Console, you can use the fetch and render feature to see your website’s various pages in the same way that google does. This way, you can check the big differences between your mobile and desktop sites and work to match them up.
Most mobile pages are organized logically with rational structures like Page1, Page2, Page3, etc.
If your pages mix together without much order or correct structure, you can bet Google will penalize your site.
Creating a map of your site’s content and going through your pages to organize them in a more accessible way can help prevent this penalization. Find pages that aren’t properly supposed and add structural pages to them.
Niche pages of otherwise irrelevant of off-topic content should be repurposed and content that’s totally irrelevant should be deleted.
Don’t Neglect Social Media Marketing
This may seem irrelevant. What does social media marketing have to do with Google’s mobile index?
Much of popular social media is accessed through mobile devices. Once you’ve properly fixed up your mobile site in preparation for Google’s mobile index, you should definitely focus on marketing via social media networks as well.
The two go hand and hand– and if you’re not marketing your website on social media networks already, you are seriously missing out on easy free traffic possibilities.
Focus On Loading Speed
We all remember back in 2015 when Google changed up its search algorithm to favor fast-loading pages over slow ones and their Accelerated Mobile Pages feature that allowed users to filter sites that loaded quicker.
While that whole catastrophe made website owners panic and adjust their site’s speed, now is the time to up your site’s speed yet again.
Replace humungous images of unnecessarily high resolutions with smaller ones. Evaluate your coding and other factors that could result in super slow loading times. Reduce the ads you have on your site or condense them, too.
Google has a tool for analyzing speed, too. Use it!
Don’t Completely Abandon Your Desktop Site
Google’s preference for mobile sites over desktop sites doesn’t mean you should abandon your desktop site by any means. People still love to use their laptops and desktop computers, and they won’t be disappearing anytime soon.
Google’s preference for the mobile index also doesn’t mean they’re trying to “phase out” desktop site searches– they’re just being a smart business. All the new index will inevitably mean is that desktop sites will load slightly slower than mobile sites, so don’t forget to invest time and work into your desktop site.
Search Engine Optimization will still be relevant and useful for desktop sites, so don’t worry!
Make Sure Your Mobile Site Is Googlebot Friendly
When Google announced the mobile index change, they made a note to test your mobile site using the robot.txt Tester.
This tool allows you to see if your site’s robot.txt file blocks Google’s web crawlers from different URLs.
If you have content on your site that you’d like to block from Google Image Search, this handy tool can help you see if that’s possible.
A fully functional awesome responsive desktop site can still be better than a mobile site that is clearly rushed and poorly coded.
You have got time to fix up your mobile site, so don’t rush the improvements and end up with a poorly functioning mobile site. Take your time and do it right!
Invest In Professionals To Handle New Strategies
Once Google announces more about mobile indexing, it will become clear exactly what changes will happen and what we need to do to adapt.
However, search engine marketing can be a challenge.
If you’re not confident in your ability to handle changing your search engine marketing strategy for the mobile index, trust a professional search engine marketing company to build that strategy for your specific business.
Was this guide to preparing your website for mobile indexing helpful? Did we miss a tip? Tell us in the comments below!