It was announced back in 2016, and it was introduced gradually from 2018. Now the time has actually come. The Mobile First Index has been the standard for all websites since March 2021.
There is a lot to do for webmasters, SEO experts and online marketers so that the pages can still be used 100%. Here we explain to you what needs to be considered for ALL websites and what you should still think about.
What does Google’s Mobile First Index actually mean?
With the Mobile First Index, the world’s largest search engine offers the ever faster growing number of mobile Internet users a real service. Almost 80 percent of all web content is now accessed via smartphone or tablet. Experts estimate that in the foreseeable future at least 90 percent of all private search queries will be started using mobile devices.
It is annoying when the website simply does not set up properly or reading and operating on the smartphone display is almost impossible.
Google always wants to offer users the best possible user experience. In the opinion of the group (and many users), this also means that every website must be equally easy to use on every device. If a page does not meet these requirements, it simply no longer appears in the search results and is therefore practically nonexistent.
In future, the Mobile First Index will only rate and display websites based on the information that is offered on the mobile version of the site.
In plain language: only the mobile version of a website still counts for the ranking!
At present, around 30 percent of all listed websites are still crawled with the Googlebot desktop. But this number is likely to change in a short time, also in view of the increasing number of mobile users.
Of course, this also means that the search engine now uses a number of other criteria to assess the value of a website. And this is how it works:
- If a website is put online, Google’s web crawler comes into play. As a trial, he first calls it up as if he were a living user. If all requirements are met, the crawler (spider) sends the page to the index.
- If the page or its content is indexed, it is generally available to the user. All information on the page is stored in so-called shards. These are basically decentralized databases that are spread across numerous data centers.
- If a search query is made, the index searches for all web pages from its memory that match the query. They then appear on the results page in the order in which they were classified as more or less important, interesting and reliable on the basis of various ranking factors. And one of the most important factors is now the question of whether the page contains a responsive design or not, i.e. whether it performs flawlessly on mobile devices.
Benefits of the new indexing
As I said, Google is mainly concerned with user-friendliness. Responsive websites optimize user guidance on mobile devices, with the focus primarily on touch control. Because not every page that was designed for desktop use has taken this into account.
But users of large computer screens will also benefit from the changeover. Because the compulsion to make websites mobile-friendly, they get (hopefully!) A clearer presentation of the essential content and thus a more direct communication.
Despite everything, Mobile First indexing doesn’t just have friends. Critics fear that web designers’ focus on mobile devices could lead to them being too constrained in their design. Especially in the B2B area, where a lot is still communicated via the desktop, the preferred mobile usability leads to a lower user experience of the website.
This is how you check whether your site is ready for the changeover
First you have to activate the Google Search Console for yourself or your website. If you’ve done this before and your page is already indexed, you have likely received a notification from Google.
If not, do the following:
- Enter your domain in the Search Console.
- The result (URL Inspection) then shows you various facts about your website.
- In the next step click on “Mobile Usability”.
- In the best case, you will then receive the message “Page is Mobile friendly” – your page is therefore fit for the Mobile First Index.
© Eric Kaiser – www.welikesocialmedia.de
Would you like to preview your website for free on different devices? We recommend this free tool for this (no registration required).
Check and optimize websites
Most web designers and even modern CMS software now naturally create responsive websites, so that they are definitely suitable for smartphones and the like.
However, it is possible that one side or the other does not yet meet these requirements. In this case, you should definitely check your website for the following criteria and, if necessary, optimize it in order to give Google’s mobile crawler the chance to index the page.
Do the check:
- Responsive design: Without it, the website cannot be viewed on mobile devices.
- URL structure: Very complex and / or extensive content with the same URL for mobile and desktop users is often not suitable for smartphones.
- Inflated design: Websites with many styles and scripts tend to take longer to load. A real exclusion criterion, especially on mobile devices. The same goes for high resolution, uncompressed images.
- Videos: In principle, moving images always require a fairly high volume of data, which quickly deters mobile users.
- Content elements: Buttons, graphics and images are not always “fully responsive”. As a result, it can happen that they go far beyond the edge of the screen when viewed on the move.
- Text formats: Fonts are automatically scaled down for mobile view. This shouldn’t go so far as to make the text illegible.
- Distance between buttons: Buttons or links that are too close together are difficult to operate on the smartphone.
- Extensive tables: The contents of tables are often shifted in a responsive design and can therefore hardly be used.
- Different URL’s: If there is the same content with different URL’s for the mobile and the desktop view, Google only indexes the mobile page.
What else makes for a top ranking
Of course, it is not enough for a good ranking on Google & Co. to ONLY optimize the website for the Mobile First Index. In addition to the now o ﬃ cial ranking factor “Mobile Friendliness”, the usual SEO measures will of course also be retained. So you should continue to pay close attention to them.
The most important SEO measures include:
- A clear navigation structure
- A good performance, which is also expressed in the short loading time
- The secure encryption with HTTPS connection
- Backlinks, but also meaningful internal links
- User-friendly content with the right keywords
- The meta title and meta description should be optimally designed for the mobile snippet
The web presence is becoming more and more important, especially for companies. In order not to fall through the Google grid, websites should definitely be optimized for the new Mobile First Index.
Mobile use (mainly via tablet) is also advancing more and more in the B2B area. “Waiting” before converting or optimizing the website would also be a mistake here.
In summary, website operators should now attach particular importance to the following functions of their pages:
- Loading times optimized for mobile use
- Readability on mobile devices
- Ease of use and functionality when using smartphones and tablets
- internal linking as an SEO measure
- structured data for all sides