Is your website ready for Mobile First?

It’s “evolve or die” time again in search

by Max Meres and Mark Leach

The SEO rulebook is about to be rewritten once more. Desktop search has been outstripped by smartphone-driven searches for a couple of years now, and this has created a paradigm shift in the way your go-to search engine works.

A brief history of mobile search changes

In April 2015, Google rolled out the Mobile Friendly Update, dramatically labelled “Mobilegeddon” by fearful SEOs. This algorithm change gave favourable rankings to websites that displayed well on mobile devices. It was hardly the mobile-driven apocalypse some people had portended, but this update was just the beginning…

“You don’t want your competitors to snake above you in SERPs, do you?”

What is Mobile First?

Now, the undisputed heavyweight of search is about to roll out mobile-first indexing — AKA Mobile First. This update will organise search results based on the mobile version of websites. Mobile First only calls on desktop versions when there isn’t a mobile-ready version to index, so it’s vital to stay abreast of these developments. Optimise for mobile users first (duh). You don’t want your competitors to snake above you in SERPs, do you?

“Right now, it has never been more important to adapt your site for smartphone users.”

77% of global web searches use Google — this adds up to 4.4 billion people daily. If Google displays the websites of business rivals ahead of yours because yours site offers a sub-par experience on mobile, it could be catastrophic for your organisation. Think of the lost revenue. Think of that once oh-so-glorious title tag slipping its way down the SERPs like a wet fish.

The importance of position 1, in case you needed some more numbers

Google’s habit of constantly evolving its algorithms to meet the changing needs of consumers mean that right now, it has never been more important to adapt your site for smartphone users. Here’s how to do it right.

Four key steps to being ready for Mobile First

  1. Make sure you have a mobile site. A responsive site design that adapts dependent on a visitor’s device is preferred. Having responsive webpages improves your mobile SEO rankings already, and they are easier to maintain than a separate mobile subdomain.
  2. Optimise content for both desktop and mobile users. You’ll need to make readability a priority, and linked elements should be easy to use on all platforms.
  3. Improve your loading speeds — most users expect near-instantaneous load times, and will bounce if it takes longer than two seconds. Consider Accelerated Mobile Pages for extra edge.
  4. Use Google Search Console Mobile-Friendly Test to audit your site — if you come across things like flash overuse, small fonts, or fixed-width viewpoints, then you have work to do.

Time to evolve again

If you work for a successful brand, then your company website will probably have most of the essentials covered off. Or maybe your site updates are a Work In Progress. But one thing’s for sure, it’s definitely time to be ready and ahead of Google when they start favouring mobile-friendly sites as a rule.

“In business, what’s dangerous is not to evolve.” — Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon

The rules of search may be in transit, but there’s no reason your business can’t move with them. Grab Mobile First by the horns and get the rankings you deserve.