What you need to know about Google’s Mobile First Index

Google Mobile First Index

For several years now, fewer and fewer consumers have been using desktop computers to perform their daily online tasks. Over two years ago smartphone and tablet users eclipsed desktop users and that percentage keeps growing. In 2014 savvy online business owners saw the future of ecommerce and raced to upgrade their websites to facilitate the mobile user experience. Since that time, millions of business owners have followed these industry leaders.

Today, it is hard to believe, but a sizeable percentage of online businesses do not yet have a mobile-friendly, or responsive web site. They cite that their demographic is desktop-based and there is no need to upgrade. Now a forthcoming Google algorithm update promises to remove the last barrier for businesses to provide websites that accommodate the needs of every user, regardless of their device. Google’s Mobile-First Index will index the web from the mobile user’s point of view. Remember, Google’s updates aim to increase the user’s online experience, and perceived roadblocks may impede achieving business goals. That decision alone should provide a wake-up call to action for every web business that has yet to respond to responsive.

Take Your Seats, the Orchestra is Playing

It’s also important to banish the theory of Google as the evil overlord in this scenario. After all, the most popular browser is merely looking out for the needs of consumers who could more readily become prospects and customers. Instead, business owners should consider the opportunity a responsive site provides to achieve their online goals (namely more traffic, leads/conversions, and revenue) with greater ease. If you are still fence sitting on this one, the time to act is now. Here are several changes that can be rolled out over the next few months while there is still time to avoid any negative impact.

  1. Think Small

    Smaller screens require greater attention to detail. Do this by removing what is not needed until you arrive at a cleaner, more fluid navigation experience. Make it easier for prospects to find what they need in as few keystrokes as possible. Remember most mobile users rely on touchscreen navigation and their ‘user intent’ (i.e. the solution to their search) is different than that of desktop users also.

  2. Build Faster Pages

    Site speed should be a consideration regardless of the device used. Sites that build slowly lose users to their competitor sites. Google cites that slow sites lose almost a third of Smartphone users within 5 seconds. Also mobile-only websites (as opposed to responsive sites which serve all users) have separate URLs from their main or desktop site, which creates speed issues that will have to be resolved as well.

  3. Adopt the Mobile Point-of-View

    Since Mobile First will index websites from the mobile users’ standpoint, current ‘desktop user only’ sites need to adopt new standards for their performance. After site speed, the primary consideration should be simpler navigation that enhances the user experience while it facilitates the sales funnel.

  4. Make Sure Your Metrics Match and Content is Cohesive

    It is important not to lose any ground that has been gained through Search Engine Optimization and other initiatives. Be sure that your website’s backend elements such as tracking, HTML titles and metas match character for character. Also, be sure not to severely edit the site pages that drive the most traffic as this could also skew your site metrics in the wrong direction.

  5. Make Your Site Easy to Use

    Throughout this post we’ve touched on the importance of making a visit to your site mutually beneficial. Google’s algorithms gauge how well your site provides for meaningful visitor experiences. Yet it is simple logic- if site visitors are made to feel welcome by containing the goods and services visitors are looking for and can easily locate and purchase same, then both online business owner and visitor/customer will benefit.

Time is running out for web business owners not yet on board with a site that is friendly to all users. There are consequences for those who ignore what in essence is Google’s final call. Google is currently rolling out mobile-friendly indexing and ‘desktop’ websites are no longer Google’s indexing priority. For these sites, a possible loss of some key metrics, along with potential revenue, is likely. It does not have to be that way.

Since 2013, Active Web Group, a leading full-service digital agency has provided easy to use and highly effective responsive websites for our clients. Our Mobile First overview skims the surface as to what online business owners need to do to prepare for this important and impactful 2018 rollout. For a confidential, in-depth discussion regarding your online business requirements, please contact us or call (800) 978-3417.