Google has released a number of updates designed to make their search engine friendly for mobile users, but with its rolling out of ‘mobile first’ version of its index,it could change the game significantly for your website's organic traffic or SEO.
Google has begun experimenting with Mobile First Indexing, a search listing built primarily by crawling mobile content first and ranking pages based on it,over desktop content. Mobile-First Index came into the picture in November 2016. It is still being implemented selectively across the globe. It works by ranking a website based on the mobile version of the website. So now, your mobile website needs to be as good as your desktop website so that you can maintain your ranking on Google.
In the past few years, Google Search has seen the majority of its traffic coming from mobile devices in countries like the U.S. and this is a trend that is now being replicated across the globe. A recent report from Hitwise, stated that nearly 60% of all searches come from mobile devices.
The Shift from Desktop Search to Mobile Search
Google has tried to encourage website owners to build mobile-friendly websites for the last few years. Google is planning to create a better user experience keeping its mobile users (who now form the majority) in mind; With the recent mobile-friendly algorithm update, mobile-friendly websites will rank better on mobile searches and also the launch of AMP project also encourages websites to load faster on mobile devices.
Google had been indexing web pages based on how it looked on a desktop screen. But they have realized that a lot of websites have a lot of content on their desktop pages while they have a stripped down version of it on their mobile devices. So when Google rank these websites based on the desktop content, mobile users were automatically shown those websites which have excellent desktop content and not necessarily great mobile content. Due to this, a lot of mobile users have been unhappy with the search results that they were seeing.
Also take into account that, on a mobile screen, a user’s attention span is really low. They will immediately leave a web page which is slow to load or doesn’t have the right information and the chances that they will return are lessened. To fix this problem and improve the overall search experience for a mobile user, Google has come up with the idea of using a Mobile-First Index.
The Future is Mobile-First
Soon we can expect Google to roll out Mobile-First indexing fully, as more than 75% of users are predicted to use search engines through their mobile devices in 2017.
If you have a website with responsive design with the same content and structured data on both the desktop and mobile version, you shouldn’t have to change anything.
If you have a stripped down version of content on the mobile or a separate mobile site, you might have to consider making some changes. Most importantly, try to have the same primary content and structured data for both mobile and desktop versions.
In the long run, it looks like a win-win situation for both users and website owners.