Google Begins Roll-Out of Its Mobile-First Indexing
Earlier this year, Google announced its “mobile-first” indexing of the internet was beginning to roll out. In 2016, Google detailed its plan to modify the way its search index functions, explaining how its algorithms would eventually be shifted to use the mobile version (if any) of a website’s content to index pages, as well as to understand its structured data and to show snippets from the site in the Google search results.
The following is directly from Google’s announcement –
“…our crawling, indexing, and ranking systems have typically used the desktop version of a page’s content, which may cause issues for mobile searchers when that version is vastly different from the mobile version. Mobile-first indexing means that we’ll use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help our – primarily mobile – users find what they’re looking for.
We continue to have one single index that we use for serving search results. We do not have a “mobile-first index” that’s separate from our main index. Historically, the desktop version was indexed, but increasingly, we will be using the mobile versions of content.”
Google explained that going froward there will be one index for search results, not dueling indexes of desktop and mobile results. To summarize, Google will start to look for mobile-friendly web pages to index, not exclusively a desktop version.
Mobile-friendliness has long been one of the many factors in determining how a site is ranked by Google, but this has not been the only factor. If, for example, there remains a non-mobile-friendly page that has the best information this will appear higher in search rankings.
All this represents a fundamental shift in the way Google will be thinking about all website content and how to it will prioritize crawling and indexing. Up until recently the desktop version of a website was considered the primary and the mobile website was treated as an alternative version.
Let’s not confuse mobile-friendly with mobile first
Can you remember back just a few years ago? As mobile website traffic started to become a reality, companies, including those in the dental and medical fields, realized the necessity of providing a browsing experience that looked good and functioned predictably on a mobile phone, and the solution was often to design a unique mobile website to stand alongside the desktop website.
Having a mobile-responsive website might not be enough to satisfy Google’s new indexing of mobile-first.
Independent healthcare professionals, dentists, physicians, chiropractors need to take a moment and rethink how their website, their brand, their practice are being impacted by this change. Thinking ‘mobile-first’ is something that can be ignored or shoved down on the to-do activities. From a top-of-search perspective, this should be a top-of-mind initiative for all dental and medical practices.
What You Should Do Today to Prepare for Mobile-First
Should you be concerned? Probably.
Is it time to panic? No.
Right this very moment, take a look at your website on your desktop computer monitor and on your cell phone. If all it’s doing is showing the homepage in portrait mode on your phone’s screen – it’s probably not going to be enough. Mobile-first wants your website to be unique for a mobile device, not simply displaying on a mobile device. The good news is that your website can be quickly, easily and nearly painlessly update to accommodate Google’s mobile-first mandate.
The following is a list of things you should think about, and do to move your website into support of Google’s mobile-first initiative. Much of this may be over your head technically – that’s why the experts at Optimized360 are standing by to help you. Contact us to get things going.
What to do –
- Take a look at the differences between your desktop and mobile versions of your website. From this exercise, consider how your content could be re-purposed specifically for the mobile experience. There’s a good reason that the paragraphs in this story are short and the sentences are short too. Photos and videos are a great mobile enhancement to any website.
- Speed up your website’s page-loading times. Website speed has always been a big factor in search engine indexing but is more important on mobile devices. Page-loading time helps determine if a visitor stays on your page (critical factor) or whether they navigate to other pages (bounce) from your website. A report by Google showed that 53% of sites are quickly abandoned if they take more than 3 seconds to load. Don’t be in this category.
- Optimize your website images. It’s frightening to acknowledge how many DIY (Do It Yourself) websites for dentists and doctors have huge images embedded not optimized. It is big images that cause the longest load-time of a website on a phone. Ask your website developer to include optimized, squished images as part of their service.
- Expand your website’s traffic sources. Don’t continue to rely on organic search traffic. You will find that Google rewards websites with a high search page rankings if visitors arrive on the website from a multitude of other sources. Consider driving traffic from your social media accounts, non-competitive allies, guest blogs, other references.
- Build your network of inbound links. High-quality backlinks (direct links from other, high-value web resources) account for 30% of your page score from Google. Not all backlinks are high-quality. Obtaining a high number of high-quality backlinks to your website requires a well-planned, well-executed SEO strategy. Content is king when it comes to recruiting and maintaining good backlinks. You’ll need to write engaging, valuable, shareable content and let other influencers know about this content and how to link to it.