Google Mobile-First-Index

What should website operators do to ensure their ranking is sustainable?

Google announces that it will switch entirely to Mobile First in the next six months (i.e. by mid 2020). Recently, when indexed by Google, website operators have received corresponding messages from the GSC (Google Search Console) about problems with the delivery of their website for mobile devices.

Website operators who do not yet have an optimized version of their website for mobile devices should therefore take action now and retrofit their website, since problems with mobile-first indexing influence the Google ranking.

Google also points out that the Mobile First Index is not only binding for new pages as before, but will also apply to older websites in the future. Mobile First means that Google indexes the content of the version of your mobile page and then uses it to evaluate the ranking. So if your mobile website is not sufficiently user-friendly and complies with the rules, you will not only get worse with your website, but you may be completely excluded from indexing with Google.

If you continue reading you will find out:

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Responsive design is Google’s favorite

The first point of contact for analysis is the Google Search Console (GSC). If your website is crawled in the GSC, the content will count towards the mobile version of your website. In earlier times, a special version of the website was created for this. This is no longer necessary today, since most modern themes and templates are already delivered with a responsive design. For some years now, Google has advised that it is imperative to use a responsive design for its own website.

This provides your visitors with the best usability on all devices on the website. The presentation of the content is thus optimized both for desktop and for all mobile types of end devices (smartphones) including tablets. That is why Google particularly loves responsive design. The search engine also recognizes that responsive design is not duplicate content (no duplicate and not unique content).

Implementation of responsive design templates

With the CMS WordPress and most CMS systems (content management and shop systems), instruments are already in place to support the implementation of the Google guidelines through appropriate awards. So they only have to be implemented by the website operator or the webmaster. The correct Google indexing is achieved by assigning the content. A prerequisite is the correct use of the structure (title tag and meta description, meta area for images) on the individual websites.

Google is paying more attention to the loading time of the website (your visitors as well)

The loading speed of your website is another important factor for the ranking of your website and thus the display in the search results on Google. For a business website and as an online retailer, the loading time is a decisive competitive factor and thus decides on your sales and your reputation. Here are a number of factors to consider, which we have already described in detail in another article. The quality of the provider and the hosting package, the server location, the quality of the CMS used, the number of plugins and the greetings of the image files used and the integration of social media etc. are decisive for a fast loading website. It should be noted that not only the loading times of the start page but also the respective sub-pages should be optimized. If the user experience is inconsistent, you will not only lose your visitors but also good ratings on Google.

Differences between the desktop view and the mobile view of your website

The version of the mobile website will not always be the correct image of the desktop website. This results from the different sizes of the screens. in the mobile version there should not be too many and, above all, not too large image files. A reasonable ratio of text and images ensures that Google classifies your content as high quality. This will secure you top positions in the search results and expand your customer base.

How does the Mobile First Index work?

In mobile-first indexing, Google only uses content from the mobile versions of websites and disregards content in the rankings that is not provided on mobile devices. Information that is not displayed to the “mobile crawler” is therefore not taken into account in the ranking, regardless of whether this information is available in the desktop version. This is to ensure user friendliness. That also makes sense, since most users are on the Internet with mobile devices.

Why is Google changing its index?

More and more search queries are made from mobile devices.

So far, it has been common practice for website operators to not provide the same content on their mobile pages as on the desktop version, mostly due to space constraints and loading times. So far, desktop websites have ranked in the case of mobile search queries, which for the reasons mentioned did not contain the desired information in their mobile version.

With the switch from priorities of the indexed variant from desktop to mobile, which Google has just announced, the search engine ensures that a website is only displayed to the user with a mobile device if the information they are looking for is really available on the mobile page.

What content should Googlebot be presented in the source text?

Difference between hiding and leaving out:

With different URLs and dynamic serving this is very easy:
if content is not delivered on the mobile version, it is not visible to Googlebot. This means that the content or the page cannot rank.

With a responsive design, there are some differences to consider:
Content that is in the source text of the document can be hidden using CSS. For example, this can be done with accordion navigation, where a heading or a link must first be clicked before additional text becomes visible.

This is helpful for users so that they don’t have to scroll too much on their smartphone. Google explicitly allows this representation in the design for mobile devices.

However, content can also be hidden without giving mobile users the option of showing them by clicking on them. Google will ignore this content in this process.

How can you check whether your website uses the Mobile First Index?

If you use the Google Search Console, you can recognize it from the fact that Google sends a corresponding message via the Search Console.

If you are not using the Search Console, you can use the querying Google crawlers to conclude that mobile-first indexing has already been activated for your own page.

If you have any problems setting up the Google Search Console, we will be happy to help you. By the way, we offer an installation service for a small fee.

Conclusion on the Mobile First Index

Switching to the Mobile First Index can vary from system to system. Depending on the previous provision of mobile content, the amount of work for website operators can differ.

Since Google has not given a fixed date for the switch to mobile-first indexing, it can be assumed that only websites that are compatible with the desktop version and the mobile version will be converted for the time being. We assume that there will be a certain transition period for all website operators who have not yet made the switch.

However, you should not wait too long to switch to the mobile-first index in order to avoid the disadvantages mentioned.

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