Are You Ready For Google’s Mobile-First Algorithm Update?
Research has shown time and time again that mobile search is ever on the rise. Most people prefer to use their mobile phones to browse the web. If you’re yet to build a mobile-friendly website, you have just a few months before Google rolls out its mobile-first index in 2018. Google recently announced its emphasis on responsive website design. To make your site fully responsive, you may have to make some critical SEO changes.
The Meaning Of Mobile-First Index
Gone are the days when search engines like Google used desktop ranking signals to index and rank content on web pages. We are at an age where more and more people are using their handsets and tablets to perform online searches. Therefore, Google is making changes to best suit the needs of mobile users. Late in 2015, Google announced that it had included mobile-friendliness as one of the many ranking signals. This was a serious warning for site owners who were yet to create mobile-friendly web pages. Now, the emphasis on mobile is far greater than it was two years back.
Will Rankings Change?
Google has been making slight changes in its index in order to test whether including mobile friendliness as a ranking factor will improve user experience. While they are yet to announce a specific launch date, the mobile-first index is expected to be rolled out sometime in January 2018. The original plan was to launch the index late in 2017 but they pushed it back to the following year. One thing to note is that Google engineers claim that the index will not significantly affect rankings. In fact, they stated that communication will be made before they roll out the mobile-first index next year.
What You Need To Do
The worst you can do is to sit back and let this new index catch you unaware. It’s very likely that your site performance will change if you don’t take efforts to improve its responsiveness. If you already have invested in a responsive web design, make sure your site has passed Google’s mobile friendly test. Find out whether your website serves the same URL on desktop and mobile and if the same content is served and experiences are customized to suit each screen size. What’s the link quality on mobile and desktop versions? Is the site taking too long to load on mobile? These are some of the factors that will affect your site’s mobile friendliness.
You may experience performance issues if:
A. Your mobile site has less content and navigation than your desktop site
B. Your mobile site takes too long to load
Remember that it’s not a mobile-only index. This means that if you only have a desktop site then its performance should not be affected. However, if you have a mobile site, it will be considered primary when indexing so it has to have the right content, proper navigation and page load speed if you want it to maintain top rankings after the index is rolled out.