With more searches coming from mobile devices instead of desktops, Google is setting mobile sites as a priority for search results in a push called Mobile First. It’s not enough to simply have a mobile friendly site anymore. It needs to look and be as good as the desktop version because it’s going to be Google’s go-to for search rankings.
The History of Mobile First
When smart phones first started searching the web, it was more novelty than anything else. Websites took forever to load and looked horrible. As speeds increased and phones were able to handle more data and better graphics, web designers began creating websites specifically for those phones. They were scaled down versions of the main site, but it was the first step to modern mobile websites.
Fast forward a few years and people began closing their laptops in favor of the convenience of mobile searching. Google took notice and began urging people to create mobile friendly sites and gave them a bump in mobile search rankings. With everyone creating mobile friendly sites and with mobile search eclipsing desktop, Mobile First indexing was born.
What This Means for You
Let’s say you’re inexplicably wearing sunglasses in the evening and it inspires you to look up on your desktop 80’s heartthrob Corey Hart’s greatest hits. The Google bots fly through the digital ether searching for information and instead of scouring a desktop site, it searches the mobile version…even though you’re on desktop.
If you have a lackluster mobile site that isn’t customized or lacks many of the content and features of the desktop site, then it will definitely impact your rankings. Many businesses chose to either create a separate mobile site or an adaptive site, but in today’s mobile first world it may be best to change. This is why we suggest getting a responsive site that changes depending on the size of the screen.
You may have a mobile friendly site, meaning that it looks fine on a mobile site, but it may not be mobile optimized. Factors that impact mobile are a little different than your desktop site. For example, page speed on mobile is of prime importance, but it’s not such a large factor for desktop sites.
Google has many tools available to help you determine if your site is up to mobile snuff including Search Console, page speed and mobile friendliness. Also, any features such as schema should be implemented on both desktop and mobile as well as Google Analytics. If you want to see the impact of mobile on your site, then you can see search results by device in Google Analytics. You may be surprised how much of your traffic is via mobile. (See: Your Website is Mobile Ready, Great! Don’t Make These Data Mistakes)
If you want to hear what Google has to say about their Mobile First efforts, check out their blog on mobile indexing.
How Long Do You Have
That’s the big question everyone wants to know. How long until it impacts me and is it already? While now considered an experiment, some searchers are receiving results based on Mobile First and others on Desktop First. They don’t know which one they are getting. They see the search results as normal, but the number of Mobile First searches will grow.
Right now, you’re not seeing an impact. It’s still a small number of searches and Google hopes that even after it’s fully rolled out, there won’t be an impact, but ultimately, that depends on you and the value of your mobile site.