What the Mobile First Index Means for You
Google’s Mobile First Index has been in discussion for some time now, but it’s not due for a full roll-out until 2018. The Mobile First index is something that reflects a philosophy that Google has had for some time now – that mobile users should come first, because mobile search traffic now exceeds desktop search in many countries, and mobile users have clearer searcher intent – so both webmasters and Google, would benefit from putting them first.
Google is not taking the stance that desktop is dead. They will not ‘stop indexing’ desktop traffic – but they are going to start looking for mobile content first, and ranking it more highly than desktop content. So, if you want to get high rankings in the search engines (or retain them if you already have them) then it will pay to make sure that your website is mobile friendly before the new year.
There is not a definite rollout date for Mobile First, at this time. Speaking at SMX West, Google engineers said that the original target date had been the end of 2017, but that now they were looking at a 2018 rollout date. They have said that there is ‘plenty of time’ to make the changes, and that webmasters will not be penalised overnight.
However, since the information is already available to help you figure out what to do with your site, it makes sense to start working on making it mobile friendly already. If you have a mobile-friendly site; a responsive site that has a layout that will work in any resolution, or a ‘reactive’ site that displays different themes for mobile and desktop users (but where the content is the same), then you don’t need to do anything to keep your rankings. If, however, your site is desktop only, or you serve up different content (not just a slightly different version of your CSS!) to different devices, then you will need to make some changes, including adding structured data to both sites, and verifying that the content is error free.
If your site is slow to load and not mobile friendly, then you may already have suffered ranking penalties as a part of ‘mobilegeddon’, and you might need to make some changes to recover from that. The good news is that if your site was designed using WordPress or another popular content management platform then you can change the theme that you use with relative ease. There are many free themes out there which can even be used for commercial purposes and that you can customise to suit your needs. There are premium themes, too, that could serve you well if you have a little money to spare and want to ensure that what you are using is unique, or at the very least used by far fewer people than the free themes are.
If your site is not powered by WordPress, Magento or any of the other popular content management systems, then you will need to take some time to get it fixed up – or get the developer that did it for you to improve the layout. Here at SEO Leeds, we can help you to resolve this. While your site is not going to vanish from the search engines overnight if you do not make it mobile friendly, it is problematic to have a desktop only site now, and you would be future proofing your website if you were to set up a mobile-friendly version of it, because the initial rollout of the Mobile First index will not be the only version of it. Improve your site today to reap the rewards.