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Critical Guide to Google’s Mobile-First Index

Posted by Neha Jain

Dec 8, 2016 1:37:31 PM

Mobile first index 1.jpgConsidering that more than 50% of all searches take place on mobile devices, Google’s practical advancement to “Mobile-First” Index is justified.

(More importantly, mobile now represents 65 percent of all digital media time, according to comScore in the US.)

Google has crawled the web from a “Desktop” point of view for more than a decade now. However, what’s different about the transition is that Google, so far, has been firm that business owners without a mobile website shouldn’t worry. If you only have desktop site, Google will continue to index your desktop site just usual. At the same time, Google is putting more emphasis on mobile version of a website.

So, what is Mobile-First Index?

Currently, Google has just desktop index. It creates signals based on Googlebot with the desktop user agent. Now, Google will crawl with their mobile Googlebot to gather mobile friendly and other signals too, but they aren’t creating a new index based on the mobile site.The Google Ranker then looks at the mobile signals collected by the mobile crawler and adjusts the rankings accordingly.

After all, Indexing affects ranking.

Keep in mind this update is currently in testing so you may not find any differences at the moment.

Ways to Optimize Your Site for Google’s Mobile-First Index.

Since Google has already started testing its mobile-first index.So if you have been slow in joining the mobile revolution, now is the time to take action as mobile continues to dominate search.

  • Site Speed:

In Google’s Site Performance for Webmasters video, Developer Programs Tech Lead Maile Ohye, states that “two seconds is the threshold for e-commerce website acceptability. At Google, we aim for under a half-second.” We can optimize the page speed by:

  • Optimizing Images
  • Removing unnecessary characters from the source code without changing its functionality.
  • Reducing redirects
  • Use the robots.txttesting tool to verify that your mobile version is accessible to Googlebot.
  • If you are a site owner who has only verified your desktop site in Search Console, please add and verify your mobile version.
  • If you have a site configuration where the primary content and markup are different across mobile and desktop, you should consider making some changes to your site.
    • Such as:
      • Structured markup for both the desktop and mobile versions.
      • Sites can verify the equivalence of their structured markup across desktop and mobile by typing the URLs of both versions into the Structured Data Testing Tool and comparing the output.
      • Sites do not have to make changes to their canonical links. Google will continue to use these links as guides to serve the appropriate results to a user searching on desktop or mobile.
  • Local optimization

In September 2016, Google released “Possum,” an update to the local search algorithm. Google’s research into local search behavior shows that local searchers are ready to take action.

  • On-page Optimization

When it comes to Mobile Search Engine Results Pages, we have limited space to deal with. So keep in mind that your titles and descriptions are concise.

  • Open up CSS, JavaScript or Images:

In early days, blocking these elements was crucial but this is no longer true. Now days, Smart phones are very powerful. The smartphone GoogleBot wants to see and categorize the same content that users do.

The mobile-first index will likely be officially launched before the end of Q1 2017, which means there’s still enough time to adapt and make necessary changes. At the minimum, it is the best time for business owners to critically evaluate how effectively engineered their mobile web experience is for their target audiences.

That’s pretty much it. If you think of other questions or concerns, please share them in the comments.

Google Tips and Free Advertising

Topics: Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Business, Lead Generation Asia

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