Mobile-First Indexing: How To Ensure Your Website Is Ready

Google is changing the way they crawl websites, with even more focus on mobile-first indexing. In 2015, Google started their lengthy transition to ensure websites are mobile optimised, which will only finish rolling out with Google’s mobile-first indexing in July 2024. But what does this mean for your website?

In this article, we’ll delve into what Google’s mobile-first indexing is and what it means for your website. We’ll also provide you with some tools to test the mobile-friendliness of your website to make sure your site doesn’t get left behind.

What Is Mobile-First Indexing?

In the past, Google used desktop user agents to crawl and index websites. However, as more and more users were using mobile devices to make online searches, Google started to put more emphasis on mobile-friendliness and encouraged site owners to prioritise mobile-first.

This change ensured that users could easily access information online using their mobile devices, with more websites optimising for mobile-first indexation since 2015.

Although Google’s mobile-first indexing was due to finish rolling out in October 2023, John Mueller from Google recently announced that they will be a mobile-first search engine from July 2024. This means that, after 5th July 2024, Google will only crawl websites using mobile user agents, so websites that are affected by crawlability issues on mobile are likely to not get indexed anymore.

For the majority of sites that are already mobile–optimised, this announcement won’t affect you. But don’t panic if you’re unsure whether your site is optimised for mobile, our team of specialists are on hand to help. Simply drop us a line for more information. 

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Getting Ready For Mobile-First Indexing

To give your website the best chance of appearing in Google’s index, it’s important to ensure that your website is as mobile-friendly as possible. Below, we’ve added some mobile optimisation strategies to keep in mind:

  • Use a responsive web design: Ensure your website layout will adapt to fit the screen size of the device.
  • Ensure pages load quickly: Cut down on large images and unnecessary scripts to reduce load time.
  • Ensure that desktop and mobile content is the same: As Google is only crawling with mobile user agents, any desktop-only content won’t be picked up.
  • Include the same metadata on both versions of your site: Ensure that the SEO title and meta description are the same across the desktop and mobile versions of your site.
  • Test your website with different mobile devices: Test how your site would look on other mobile devices.
  • Test which user agents your web pages are using: Crawl your main web pages to check if any of them are still being crawled with desktop user agents before July. Check again after July to ensure that any pages that weren’t crawled on mobile, are still indexed. If you’d like us to take a look at your sites mobile indexation status, get in touch. Our SEO team can conduct a crawl of your site to ensure that it’s being picked up by Google’s mobile user agents.

Related: Improve Content Performance For Organic Search

What Happens If You Don't Optimise For Mobile

As previously mentioned, failing to optimise your website for mobile platforms can significantly harm your online performance. Google needs to be able to see everything with their mobile user agent, so if some of your content is available on desktop only, it won’t be picked up.

If there are any crawling or rendering issues with a mobile user agent, this will also cause indexation problems. In fact, if some of your pages aren’t crawlable or are affected by crawlability issues on mobile, they are likely to not be indexed. This can significantly impact how Google crawls and indexes your site, which can drastically impact rankings and, ultimately, traffic.

Tools & Tests for Mobile Friendliness

At Proof3, our team has access to a range of free and paid tools and platforms to assess your website’s mobile friendliness. These tools include:

  1. Google Search Console: Includes reports and tools to fix mobile usability issues, monitor your mobile performance and ensure your site is configured according to Google’s standards.
  2. PageSpeed Insights: Tests the performance of your webpage and gives feedback on how it can be improved.
  3. Google Mobile Friendliness Test: Allows you to check your webpages’ mobile-friendliness. It also gives your reasons as to why it isn’t mobile-friendly.
  4. Screaming Frog: Crawls the entire website (or selected pages) using API plugins like PageSpeed Insights and Google Search Console to analyse the performance of your entire site in one crawl. It also allows us to identify which user agent your web pages are currently using.

Ready to take your eCommerce SEO to the next level?

With Google’s mobile-first indexing around the corner, it’s more important than ever to ensure that your website is mobile-friendly. If you want us to help with optimising your website, drop us a line today.

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