Arcalea - Need to Know: The Mobile-First Index

It is hard to believe that it was less than ten years ago that the iPhone was launched, and with it, the online landscape changed virtually overnight. People were no longer tied to their desktops for internet access, and as technology evolved, more users were switching to mobile. The world of technology is forever changing. Anyone who wishes to participate, including website owners, need to be flexible and ready to change quickly.

If any confirmation was needed that mobile has finally eclipsed the desktop, look at Google’s shift towards a mobile-first index. Mobile usage has surpassed that of the desktop, and if your current website is not mobile friendly, then there may be trouble ahead. It is essential that you understand the seismic shift this will bring to internet search results, and ensure that you have a suitable mobile strategy in place.

Google is a business, and it wants to provide its customers with the best user experience. It knows that the majority of its customers are using mobile browsers over desktop, and so it has made the decision that sites who prioritize mobile browsing will appear higher in the search results. This is both invaluable and scary information, and as a business owner, you need to take action fast.

However, just because you have a mobile responsive website, does not mean you are finished. Here are some other things you need to focus on to ensure you maintain or even improve your position on Google.

Mobile Website Essential Strategies

Mobile Friendly Content – The content you have on your desktop site will not automatically look good on a cell phone, even if you have a mobile responsive theme. Does your website currently use Flash enabled video content? Modern smart phones, such as Apple and Android Devices, no longer play Flash video, so this content simply won’t play. If the video is essential to your site, consider uploading it to YouTube and then embedding it on your site. This won’t take long to accomplish but will make a significant improvement to your mobile page.

Site Speed – Contrary to what the cell networks might try to tell you in their advertising blurb, cell phone speeds can be dreadfully slow. Ensuring that your site loads quickly on mobile is vital because most people don’t have unlimited internet, and even less have the patience to wait for a page to load. If your site loads slowly, it will likely be penalized by Google. Google provides a speed check analysis tool for a reason, so ensure you use it to regularly check your load speed times. People have a very low attention span, and you need to grab their attention quickly. Think of how many times a site loaded slowly on your phone. Do you wait around, or go to the next result in the search engine? Invest time on your site to ensure it loads rapidly as this will reap the rewards.

Site Structure and Navigation – It is important to make sure your mobile site is simple to navigate. Remember that the real estate you are working with is a lot smaller than a desktop computer, so make the links and navigation clear and logical. People will quickly lose patience and leave the page, if they struggle to navigate around it. As this post confirms optimizing your site for mobile navigation is a necessity and ignored at your own peril.

Mobile Friendly Content – The content itself may need to change if you have a separate mobile-optimized website. While it is true that the screen size of many phones is increasing, reading long text heavy pages is not conducive to an engaging experience for the reader. Your mobile content needs to be punchy, informative and interesting, the sort of article that can be consumed while standing in a queue at the supermarket. Google monitors the amount of interaction users have with every site (this is known as the bounce rate), so if visitors constantly leave your site within seconds, but spend ten minutes interacting with your competitor’s site, they will eventually outrank you on Google.

The Mobile-First Index Change Presents A Huge Opportunity

It is not very often that a change of such magnitude hits the internet, but the switch to a mobile first index by Google provides every business with an outstanding opportunity to establish their sites on the front page of Google. Anyone who has experienced this will have first hand experience of  just how valuable this can be to your business; it’s a game changer.  

This means taking positive action that is focused and created with a mobile mindset from the outset. Do not try and squeeze content that was designed for desktop consumption into your mobile site, create it again with the mobile viewer as your target customer.

Visit other sites on the internet and educate yourself on what works and what doesn’t. Implement the above mentioned strategies and ensure that the vast majority of your focus is targeted to your mobile site going forward.

A lot of companies are going to be caught out by this change, but now that you read this article, you will be in front of the wave and ready to take full advantage of the imminent changes.