The Mobile first index has been a before and after for many web pages that have lost their online visibility because they are not adapted to mobile devices.
To explain it clearly:
If your website is not adopted to Mobile-Friendly design then your website will NOT rank in Google.
If you want to know what mobile first index is and what kind of practices to carry out on your website to optimise your content for mobile and improve your overall SEO positioning on search engine then continue reading.
What is Mobile first index
Mobile first index or Mobile first indexing or Mobile indexing first.
Call it whatever you want, the fact is that now Google indexes and positions the mobile versions of your website content through the tracking carried out by its agent for smartphones.
This means that Google uses the mobile version of the Website content for indexing and ranking.
This has been the case since September 2020, although they had been announcing it since March so that we would be prepared.
Background and importance of mobile friendly design
How bad is Google that makes us work too much, huh?
This is a matter of logic that responds to the evolution of how we search on Google.
And this is clear to us: mobile searches currently win over desktop searches.
Google knew this for a long time. They have noticed that in 2016 and were already talking about mobile-first indexing and since July 2019 it was already applied to new websites.
And it is normal.
Put yourself on the user’s side. When you browse and land on a page that isn’t optimised for mobile, you get frustrated and mad.
It is so.
So, the best thing you can do as a webmaster is to have a website optimised for mobiles and offer the same content for users who arrive from desktop and from mobile or tablet.
Google has no preference for any particular URL format as long as all Googlebot user-agents can access all pages and their elements.
That said, you have to change the chip and think about mobile. That’s it, there is no more.
And how to do it to improve website search rankings?
Well, here are some tips and good practices so that nobody leaves your page in angry and Google can enter, crawl, index and everything that is necessary so that you can appear in their results and receive traffic.
How to rank a website with a mobile first index
Notice that Google itself claimed that 70% of websites had already automatically switched to Mobile-first Index. That means 30% of the pages were not ready. It means that there are millions of web pages that exist which is a lot.
By the way, if you do not know if they have passed to Mobile first you can check it at:
1.Search Console, in the coverage section. In any case, if Google moved you to Mobile first index, you would receive a notification and an email.
2. In the server logs, the Googlebot smartphone user-agent is this:
Mozilla / 5.0 (Linux; Android 6.0.1; Nexus 5X Build / MMB29P) AppleWebKit / 537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome / 41.0.2272.96 Mobile Safari / 537.36 (compatible; Googlebot / 2.1; + http: //www.google .com / bot.html)
Mobile first index key principles to follow
Google itself declared that there are three key points to optimise your website for mobile and they are these:
- Tell Google if your page is mobile-friendly.
- Avoid typical errors, such as including videos that cannot be played on mobile phones, such as a flash video.
If you still don’t have a responsive version of your website, keep in mind that the key is to start with the current desktop content and create a design pattern optimised for mobile devices.
You can implement AMP or simply have a template with responsive design that does not pose a problem for the experience of users who visit your page from a device with a screen smaller than the PC.
In a responsive web design, we use the same URL and the same code regardless of the user’s device from which they visit our website pages.
For example www.alltop9.org. Gone is that of using m.alltop9.org for mobiles and alltop9.org for desktop. Now everyone accesses the same URL, wherever they come from because the content adapts to the different screen sizes of each device.
Depending on your business and development model, you may have to hire a developer.
It is advisable to use wire-framing to display content on different screen sizes and make sure it is viewed correctly on any device.
Mobile First Index Practices recommended by Google
There are a series of practices recommended by Google to adapt to the Mobile first index that you should know:
Access and processing of the Google robot
This is essential. In order for the Google robot to access your content and process it correctly, you must:
Use the same meta tags for desktop and mobile in order to be crawled and indexed correctly. Be very careful with the «noindex» or «nofollow».
NO to lazy content loading
The Googlebot does not load content that requires user action to display.
Same content as in the desktop version
This is a very common mistake, but the truth is that Google itself emphasizes the importance of displaying the same content in the desktop version as in the mobile version.
If you show less content in your mobile version, Google will not be able to access the full desktop content because of the mobile first index (it is the mobile content that counts).
Keep in mind that it is important even at the heading or layout level since Google may understand content differently.
Pay attention to structured data
They must be the same, both in the desktop and mobile versions. For possible errors it is advisable to check the data merchant panel.
Pay attention to the formats of your ads
If you are going to introduce ads on the mobile version of your page make sure you choose the correct formats because many are not compatible with the mobile experience.
Recommendations for images
- Use high-quality images that do not look too small on mobile or even blurry due to low resolution.
- Use a suitable format and if it can be of the latest generation, such as webp which could be better.
- Use the same alternative text (alt) in the images for both versions (desktop and mobile).
Recommendations for videos
- Don’t use dynamic URLs to upload your videos.
- Use a suitable format with the < video >, < embed > or> object > tag.
- Use the same structured data for videos on desktop and mobile versions.
- Place your video in a section of the page where mobile users don’t have to scroll too far down.
Other mobile friendly recommendations
They are pure logic, so don’t be overwhelmed.
The most important things to consider without going into technicalities or the work of the developer, are these:
Look, optimising content for mobile means eliminating unnecessary resources that perhaps on desktop did make more sense.
Think about what AMP does and how it displays information when implemented without additional ad plugins, shortcodes, and other issues.
Reduce loading speed and improve pagespeed
Also worry about optimising loading times (take a look at this Moz page speed guide and Google’s own developer documentation), sizes, browsing experience and think about everything that is not visible on mobile.
For example: the sidebar and widgets, menus, etc.
Check your current pagespeed in Google’s own pagespeed tool or the loading speed in tools like GTMetrix.
Pay attention to the size of the font and buttons.
This usually generates alerts in Search Console, so there is a button giving problems, you will receive an email with the warning.
Watch out for forms
Check that the fields of the form and the button are displayed correctly on mobile and on any screen size.
By the time the user has to enlarge or reduce the screen with their fingers, you will be losing leads.
This may seem silly, but no.
The lines have a separation that facilitates the reading, see that there is a correct separation between paragraphs or the buttons are not glued to the text or images implies an improvement in the UX of the page.
And yes, you must also take it into account for SEO because chaotic visibility of the content leads to abandonment and that increases your bounce rate. It would be a shame if you had the best information in the world but poorly presented on a visual level.
The blank spaces are necessary to let the text breathe, but don’t go overboard and check how they look on mobile before publishing.
The Google robot is perfectly prepared to access and render these types of resources, so don’t block them because they are essential to determine if your website is responsive.
To review all the implementations, I recommend using an emulator so that you can see how your page looks on any screen size.
Google has already ruled on pop ups numerous times. Yes, you can have them, but if we are thinking about mobile, perhaps it is not the most appropriate.
At least, if you keep it, make sure it looks good without changing screen sizes and that it can be easily closed from mobile.
In any case, if you have an online business and all this is too big for you, it is best to contact an expert SEO positioning agency that will be in charge of redesigning your website, making it responsive and visible to the Google smartphone user-agent. My agency ALLTOP9 is an option, of course.
This is all about the Mobile first index. Now it’s your turn: has your page already passed the mobile first index test? What problems have you had along the way? If you are not able to solve any of the issues comment below and we will help you with the solutions.