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What Is Google’s Mobile-First Index and How Does It Affect You?

Posted on 10/09/2017 at 12:00 AM

Though Google has warned many times before that a mobile-first index is coming soon, delays have pushed it back. Now Google is warning that in 2018, websites will be indexed and ranked based on the content on their mobile websites. Here’s what you need to know.

First, what is a mobile-first approach?

A ‘Mobile-First’ approach to web design is a design methodology which says to first design for smaller screens. In other words, the priority for both the content and the design should be to present a pleasant experience to those using small screen devices.

For example, avoid the use of small text hyperlinks stacked closely together making it nearly impossible for users to effectively select the desired link with their finger. Instead, a designer may opt for larger buttons that offer far more control and precision to the user.

What is a mobile-first index?

It’s no surprise that most people today use their mobile devices to search Google for information. Studies show that anywhere from 51% to 60% of searches happen on mobile, whereas desktop searches have dropped, by some counts, as low as 44%. That being said, Google’s ranking algorithm still relies heavily, even primarily, on the desktop version of a page’s content in order to calculate its relevance to the user. 

Now, Google has come to the conclusion that this method does not provide the best user experience because many times, mobile pages have less content than their desktop counterparts. It boils down to the fact that Google’s algorithms are not evaluating the actual page that is seen by a mobile searcher, which can lead to some issues.  For this reason, Google is looking to change this paradigm by ranking websites based on their mobile-facing pages. 

So how will this change affect you?

If your mobile site is responsive and/or the content on your mobile website matches the content on your desktop website, you should have nothing to fear. 

But if you have a separate, scaled down version of your website specifically for mobile users, it’s time to reconsider your strategy. Global Reach can work with you to discuss a web solution that will thrive in the next generation of search. Contact us today!

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