Over the last several years, Google has been working towards the advancement of mobile-first indexing1. Mobile-first indexing means that Google primarily uses the mobile version of a webpage for ranking and indexing purposes. If your website has separate mobile and desktop URLs, Google will display the mobile URL to mobile users, and the desktop URL to desktop users, but the indexed content will be the mobile version. Google had planned to have this process completed by March 2021, but COVID arrived. So now the process of getting all of the sites moved over is actually, finally, near the finish line. The switch itself does not require any action on your part, but there are some steps that you can take to be certain that your website is optimized for this new algorithm.
Make sure content is the same on desktop and mobile. The content on your mobile and desktop sites should be the same. Google warns that if you intentionally have less content on your mobile page than on your desktop page, you can anticipate a loss of traffic when that page is indexed because users won’t be able to get as much information as before (when the desktop version was used). Google recommends using the same headings on both versions, as well.
Make sure Googlebot can access and render your content. To do this you need to: make sure that the same meta tags are used to crawl both versions of your site, that Google can see any lazy-loaded content, and that you are not blocking specific URLs with the disallow directive.
Check your structured data. If you have structured data on your website, make sure that it is present on both the desktop and mobile versions of your website, that the URLs in the structured data on the mobile versions are updated to the mobile URLs, and, if you use Data Highlighter, train it on your mobile site.
Check the placement of your ads. Follow Google’s Better Ads Standards when displaying ads on mobile devices. For example, ads at the top of the page on a mobile device may take up too much room and result in a bad user experience.
Check your images. Provide high quality images, use supported format for images, don’t use URLs that change every time the page loads for images, make sure the mobile site has the same alt text for images as the desktop site, make sure that the mobile page content quality is as good as the desktop page.
Check your videos. Don’t use URLs that change every time the page loads for your videos, use supported formats, use the same video structured data, place the video in an easy to find position on the page when viewed on a mobile device.
Stay on top of mobile errors. Google does not necessarily expect you to know how many factors that you are optimized for, but the do expect you to regularly check Search Console for mobile errors, and to take the necessary steps to address those errors when they are revealed. Errors may include orphan pages, missing meta tags, missing structured data, oversized images, or issues with page quality.
Single Website for both Mobile and Desktop
Exisor recommends a single website and code base for most web solutions. With Responsive Web Design (RWD), an organization is able to tailor the user experience using CSS Media Queries instead of building two separate websites. This allows for maximum efficiency and security in web communications.
Does your website need to be redesigned with a Mobile First approach?
Contact Exisor today for a free web consultation.
1 Google Search Central Documentation, 2021, “Mobile-first indexing best practices”