Mobile-First Indexing: What you need to know

Have you seen what your website looks like on a mobile device? Tried to interact with the elements on it? Tried clicking a few links, talk to your own chat support, view the media on different screens?

 

If you haven’t done this for a while, now is a great time to review what your site actually looks like on mobile. Time is rapidly approaching when Google will be rating most websites’ performance based on its mobile version.

 

You have probably heard about Google’s move to the mobile index. In short this means that Google will now use the mobile version of your website, rather than the desktop version, to determine where to place your site in its search results. So your digital team’s work with Search Engine Optimisation should be focused around improving your website’s mobile experience.

 

In the past few months, the company has been very active in rolling out this new decision. Many website admins have gotten notifications from Google regarding their move to mobile-first indexing.

 

There is no reason to worry about anything – your website can probably handle this change. Most modern websites utilize “responsive” design, which means the formatting of the site changes according to the device it is being viewed on, so it is automatically optimized for most devices’ screens.

 

Responsive design is a sliding scale, not an absolute. This means that there may be some elements of your site that work very well on smaller screens, while others may be slowing things down or not loading properly. In order to check for these things, you will want to run a few free online tests to check your website’s responsiveness. There are a few available if you type in “responsiveness checker” on Google; Google even has their own one pop up at the top of the search results. All you need to do is enter your website URL, and the test will give scan your site for mobile devices. Then, it will let you know exactly what should be optimized for a better mobile experience.

 

You may also give some thought to how things are positioned on your website. You have call-to-actions on your site that you want users to act on. Are they easy to see and access on mobile?

Try to time yourself while you navigate your own website on mobile. Pretend that you are a potential customer who is new to the site. How long would it take you to find what you want? How easy to find and click on the call-to-action button? How many pages do you need to click through on the site to get to something useful?

 

Here’s one many website owners have a little trouble with: filling out forms. It is important to remember that people’s patience for filling out online forms is very limited, and this goes double for mobile. Make sure that your online form has clearly marked and visible fields. Make only 3-4 of them mandatory to fill out; the rest should be optional. In most cases, all you really need is a name and an e-mail.

 

You can use free online tools to see exactly how your website is being used by its visitors. One such tool is Google Analytics reporting; another useful tool is a “heat map” which shows exactly where users are going on your page. You can read more about using heat maps to measure performance here in our blog post