According to the Internet Live Stats, Google processes more than 40,000 queries per second. It accumulates to more than 3.5 billion searches a day. Users in general, regardless of their region or location, prefer to use Google to find a product, service, brand, or topics.
The power to process queries quickly and to deliver millions of relevant results has made Google the top choice search engine for users.
To refine the searches even further, Google is playing hard to take different indexing strategies into consideration to improve the end user experience.
The mobile-first index is also a way forward in making it easy for users to search and browse websites on their mobile devices without design malfunctioning.
What is Mobile-First Indexing?
Google continues to index websites and rank them according to the ease-of-use and relevancy it provides for the internet searches.
Every day, the indexing mechanism is accelerated to add more websites to the directory.
Did you know that in 2012, Google accomplished an indexing speed of up to 50 million pages per minute?
But, now Google is adding a few more quality attributes.
Now, the mobile versions of websites will be indexed first, in what is being called ‘mobile-friendly search results’.
Mobile-first indexing is not like the rest of the Google updates that used to penalize websites for non-compliance with webmaster rules.
This time, Google wants you to learn and improve, as it is not only for the search engine users benefit but also your business that avail the ultimate benefits too.
How can you prepare your website? (For the change)?
The mobile revolution has finally made us think ‘mobiles first’ and abandons the desktop users who have really started the eCommerce game for us.
Accept and adopt the change, as failing to do so may, in terms of technology, leave you in the dark.
So, here are some things you can do to get your website ready.
1. Modify your website design for better mobile viewing and usability
Right from now, think mobile-first.
If you have plans to add a new feature or functionality to your website, start thinking about it from a mobile viewing and usability perspective.
Now, here are some quick tips to help you –
Consider how you use pop-ups – The use of pop-ups entirely depends on the nature of your business and the kind of conversions you seek.
‘Online stores’, for example, can benefit from using pop-ups for highlighting discount deals and offers. However, if online business owners want their users to focus more on the content of a landing page, then pop-ups may prove to be a restraint in a mobile viewing environment. So, consider its incorporation or removal accordingly.
Incorporate drop-down menus and tabs – Mobile users want to read more on a small screen, that’s why the incorporation of drop-down menus and tabs in accordion style becomes mandatory. Distributing the content of your website in various tabs allow users to click and read the content relevant to their needs.
Remove flash design elements – Flash is still in use by most of the websites as it allows designers and developers to produce rich and attractive content.
But, the place and time for flash content are coming to an end. Apple has removed it from their devices, and soon or later, other mobile manufacturers may also stop making flash-powered devices. So, it is better to say ‘remove flash’.
Ensure tap-friendliness of your website – In pursuit of making the design attractive, most of the options or cross-signs are made miniature, which may result in invalid or incorrect clicks. Consider improving tapping experience to facilitate users in clicking and scrolling easily on a mobile screen.
2. Reform checkout experience for mobile users
Invesp predicted that by the end of 2017, two billion people would make some kind of commerce transaction using their mobile devices.
Mobile users find it difficult to enter extensive details like shipping and billing information on some websites.
Have you ever shopped online using your mobile device and found it difficult to enter some of your information?
I certainly have. It can a real pain.
So, consider removing unnecessary fields from the checkout page, or replace the multiple steps to a single page.
The multiple phases of a checkout consume a lot of time in acquiring users information. You can save the time with a one-page checkout system.
Additionally, users are reluctant to share financial details over a mobile device.
In this case, secure the connection between the users and your website, and display the security logos right on the checkout page to reassure them that their data is in safe hands.
You can consider the addition of Android pay or Apple pay to further facilitate users in paying for the products or services using mobile devices.
3. Improve your website loading speed
The speed of a website is a major concern for most people. Either you optimize your website for desktop or for mobile browsing.
Hopefully, you are optimizing for both.
At the end of the day, it is your website’s loading speed that decides whether a user stays to browse your products, services, and read your content, and consequently award you with a due conversion.
However, getting ready for the mobile-first index, your focus should be optimizing the speed and performance of the mobile version of your site.
Here are several ways to accelerate your website loading time –
Remove unnecessary images – HD images and visuals are quite attractive and fascinating, but these can slow down websites as well. Analyze your website pages, product pages, landing pages, blog posts, and remove any images that may not be necessary to have. If you have duplicate images, for instance, definitely delete them and keep just the one version. Consider optimizing the images you want to keep for faster loading.
Refine your coding – Check your website’s source code to see if there are any unnecessary characters that you can remove that might be slowing down your site. Be sure to remove only the characters that will not affect the functionality of an option or the overall performance of your website. A simpler alternative, implement AMP or PWA – AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is an open-source application that expedites the website loading speed much quicker than the HTML does. Additionally, this makes Google cache your website in their search cache that further advances the loading speed for mobile users. PWA (Progressive Web Apps) is used as an alternative solution to AMP.
Also, check out this tool to check your website mobile page speed load time.
5. Review your On-page SEO settings
The search engine result pages (SERPs) on a mobile device differs from a desktop view.
For mobile, there isn’t much to configure, however, just make sure the Meta title, description, and keywords are thorough and concise.
On a desktop, users often click multiple websites from the search results, but on a mobile screen, they behave differently. Users may scroll down the searches and click the most relevant one to their search query. So, keep the Meta details simple and to the point.
6. Optimize for local search
Mobile users are prone to take action when they stumble upon a local business through the search results.
The obvious reason is that they can reach out to the seller in person if they have a question or discrepancy related to the products or services.
In other words, targeting a local community is more fruitful through mobile-friendly optimization.
The basic settings include the addition of city and state name (or county) in the page title, URL, and within the content of a page with H1 tags.
Display a local phone number and a physical address to gain more credibility in local searches is also useful.
The SEOPressor Connect plugin has some great features to help you optimize your website for SEO and Local SEO. Click here to learn more.
7. Adopt the mindset of Mobile-first Design
Changing your mindset is a genuine method of getting your website ready for the Google’s mobile-first indexing.
The moment you accept the change and adopt the strategy of molding a website design according to the mobile user’s needs is the foundation towards going mobile-first.
Gone are days when you had to design and develop an eCommerce website or a blog for desktop users only.
Mobile devices are dominating the current era and that’s why websites will move towards mobile-first design rather than just mobile responsive.
The old practice of creating a website for desktop and then creating a mobile version is soon going to be obsolete. From now on, the web presence of a business will be driven by the mobile-first design and strategy.
Getting ready for the upcoming changes in Google’s indexing procedures is not a one-off job or tactic.
We, as developers, designers, marketers, webmasters, bloggers, and website owners need to learn a lot about the need to move towards mobile-first design.
Mobile devices are engulfing the internet searches across the globe. Failing to comply with the basics will not only ‘potentially’ remove you from the search results, but from the sphere of the internet altogether.
Also, if your website is not relying on the traffic from search engine, you may still need to go mobile-first, as the upcoming era belongs to mobile-friendliness and responsive-designs. Regardless of the marketing or optimization technique you use, if the final destination of a target user is your website, you have to adapt and change sooner rather than later.
Asad Ali is a digital marketing expert with more than 7 years of experience. His vast exposure to SEO, UX, boosting conversions and web design makes him an industry expert. Currently, he is heading the digital marketing team at GO-Gulf – a Dubai based custom website design company. You can also reach Asad on LinkedIn here.