The Advent of Mobile-First Indexing: Test If You’re Ready!

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Although many site owners approach user experience optimisation with desktop usage in mind, then gradually move towards a mobile friendly website as a secondary project, by following this practice and deeming mobile optimisation a less important slice of the “user experience pie” they may lose out on visitors and valuable conversions.

According to a recent study, 96% of us use smartphones to get things done* on a daily basis, which should be a compelling enough reason to reevaluate this proposition. Additionally, there is a steadily growing trend of content consumption on mobile devices and the fact that mobile searches have exceeded the number of searches on desktop in many countries around the world is nothing new.

The need for the mobile revolution of the web has been addressed and dictated by Google over the course of the past few years.

Google’s data insights team recognised the increasing trend of mobile usage, and initiated numerous attempts to warn site owners of this change in usage behaviour, providing benefits to those who embraced the practice of mobile user experience optimisation.

Let’s have a look at the timeline of all the algorithm adjustments that have shaped the mobile landscape today:

Mobilegeddon

On the 26th February 2015, Google announced a potential new change to the sequence of the search results on mobile devices, driving the industry to focus more on a mobile friendly site structure. Shortly after this declaration, ‘Mobilegeddon’ was released in April 2015, giving priority ranking to those websites that displayed well on handheld devices.

Interstitials

Also in 2015, Google warned those mobile site and app owners who allowed pop-ups disturb the smooth user flow. Although the official update is not released yet, starting from January 2017, Google will alter its algorithm and may disadvantage those websites where “content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search”.

AMP

Drawing attention once again to the importance of the mobile experience, Google started displaying the AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) symbol on the search result pages in February 2016, which signifies the special coding behind those websites that enable mobile pages to load quickly. This icon is awarded to those businesses who cooperate with Google in achieving their objective and help make a mobile friendly web a reality.

Mobile First Index

Probably the most important change in the recent years was announced by Google just last month, which reinforces the increasing importance of mobile device usage in the buying cycle. Google’s recent statement confirmed a new “mobile-first” index update, which is currently in its testing phase.

This adjustment means that crawlers will no longer scan the desktop version of a website for relevant content initially but will start by checking the mobile variant of a site to determine relevance.

Top Stories vs. In The News

As a further addition to the mobile friendly updates’ family, Google replaced the “In The News” box with the “Top Stories Box” on desktop search results starting from last week, in an attempt to match the look and feel of the mobile search results.

Although the latter seems to be an aesthetic adjustment for the time being, the timeline above does suggest a pattern unfolding. Therefore, if you were not amongst the early adaptors of the mobile revolution and consider your business to be behind the curve, now is the time to act!

How to Test if Your Website is Mobile-Friendly?

If you are unsure whether or not you are ready to tackle the “mobile-friendly challenge”, a couple of free tools may help you with the investigation:

  1. Analyse your website with the Mobile-Friendly Test tool and you can learn how Google Search sees your mobile site.
  1. Prepare a list of mobile usability issues on your websites by logging in to your Search Console account and have a look at your Mobile Usability Report.
  1. Check if the load time of the mobile (and desktop) versions of your website are within the suggested threshold by clicking through to the site speed checker.

Using the tools above, you will gain valuable insights into what needs improving on your website, but if you need help with any of the tests or assistance with the optimisation of your mobile site experience, contact Gravytrain, your digital marketing specialist!

*https://analytics.googleblog.com/2016/10/announcing-google-surveys-360-newest.html?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=novemberadvanced&utm_content=en_gb&m=1