Google Mobile first indexing

Google mobile first index is now implemented on a large proportion of fully responsive websites in the Google index. The statistics show that over 52% of global internet traffic is served to mobile devices, with other devices making up the balance (desktop, laptop, tablet).

Ensuring that you are fully prepared for Googles new front of mobile search is a vital part to being successful online and it presents an equal amount of risk and opportunities depending on how closely you adher to the following 7 key points on mobile search. This guide by Uk seo and web specialists seo leaders aims to provide the critical information in an easy to digest (and act upon) guide.

The first stage before preparing your site for mobile indexing (this still applies to even the most mobile friendly sites) is to perform a site audit of your current site in both desktop and mobile versions to see how google sees your site. You can use google mobile test to benchmark your sites current performance.

So how did you score?

Here is what you need to do to blast your Google page insights scores upwards! 

Stage I fully responsive

Being mobile responsive is a very important aspect of Google mobile first index. Considering that Google is now ranking sites based on the mobile experience being a fully responsive website is obviously very important. A website that was done maybe five years ago will most likely not be suitable to be fully responsive in the modern Internet age. Being fully responsive usually means offering a version of your site pared down for mobile phone or tablet use, this may be with certain large images removed and other aspects added to make the user experience suitable and good for mobile users.

With modern website all mobile and desktop sites reside on the same domain and are then transposed seamlessly by device identification but some years ago it was common for a separate website for mobile users that they were redirected to, an extension was launched that was going to be used for mobile sites!

Having a separate entity from desktop to mobile site is not the way that we would advise to do things in 2018 and your main website should be fully responsive for all devices.

Stage 2 website speed

The speed of a website is without doubt one of Google’s premier ranking factors for websites and this applies to both desktop and mobile sites. The speed of the page load of a website is critical to where you will rank in the search engines.

Mobile devices have smaller processors than desktop PCs and with the advent of 4G they have the potential to use this bandwidth to load larger pages quickly however Google has to account for slower mobile connection speeds in areas that do not have 4G or 3G and for this reason it is very important that your site is compact and scores well in mobile usability and mobile speed tests.

Some things to factor in are eliminate render blocking JavaScript and CSS in above the fold content because this can slow down page load; other factors are also large images and unnecessary or badly written code which will slow down the page load.

Use Google insights to get a good idea of how Google sees your desktop and mobile site, but you can also use GT Metrix, Pingdom and to get the low down on the speed of your site. Not all of those sites will give the same speed; nuances like where their test server is located and their testing methods means different results will be expected. Pingdom is usually more friendly in terms of page load speed, but gtmetrix has a large action list to help your site speed and load.

Stage 3 The visitor journey and Bounce rate

It is vital to understand what the visitors your site are looking for where they are going to travel on the website and are they going to find what they want. One vital factor to ranking is a good bounce rate which is the measure of how long people stay on your site and they bounce off and leave straightaway. High bounce rate would indicate to Google that you are not satisfying the users experience and therefore when they are testing your site for higher ranking positions the algorithm may well leave your site the back of the queue if the bounce rate is high because Google will decide that the content does not match the user’s search query or intent.

Stage 4 – Mobile friendly content focus

You need to think about the content you’re putting on the website and ensure that it will work well on a mobile device or tablet as well as desktop. The Google mobile first index is essentially ranking your site based on its mobile experience, or at least this is the case when you have been selected in Webmaster tools for mobile first indexing.

Although you clearly have to cater to your desktop users as well you can in fact develop content that you know will be catchy and very readable on mobile devices and use this for both desktop and mobile. As previously mentioned generating a good user experience is a vital part of the web journey so you are writing your content for people not search engines; this is vital. Mobile friendly content would include nicely optimised images, a layout that translates well to mobile and tablet etc.

Stage 5 – AMP accelerated mobile pages

Accelerated mobile pages are designed primarily for a certain type of website or article essentially text heavy articles that do not contain images infographics or anything visually pleasing. Whilst Google loves fast loading pages and simple code, amp is probably not a good idea because of the advent of 4G meaning that visually nice mobile pages will still load fast and provide a far better user experience. Google is all about user experience and sings this repeatedly to their users and their Webmasters.

Stage 6 – Copy what the leaders are doing

Yes, you’ve got it, if you can’t beat them join them. While all your content must be unique that doesn’t have to say that your ideas have to be absolutely unique (although it’s essential if you want viral shares). So it is worth going through your industry and looking for who is ranking at the top of the search engines and who are the most similar to your company but performing better in search. Take a look at what they are doing, measure their website speed, use semrush or similar to find out an approximation of their web traffic, how old is the domain, what sort of content are they putting out and how regularly, all these things should be used to analyse the competition and then make your site better!!!

Stage 7 – Don’t forget to tell everyone

The final stage to this summary guide is don’t forget to let everyone know about the great content you have and how cool your website is. This is easier than it sounds but it is wise to engage the services of an outreach specialist and potentially some social media marketing professionals who can get your brand out there, get some social shares and social signals going on, and generate some nice legitimate organic traffic to your site. Keep adding the fresh content, keep the promotions going, generate and build your audience and make sure you’re providing a great user experience and you will make great gains in your websites prominence and search engine rankings.

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