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After a few years in which they released a seemingly never-ending slew of changes to their search algorithm and results, Google has made most of its changes under the radar in recent months. One significant exception has been the rollout of the mobile-first index. Unlike previous changes, which Google only announced when they were rolling out, the company has been very cautious about the latest mobile-first index update.
It was first announced over a year ago and the rollout, which took over a year to start, is still in a very early stage. Nevertheless, mobile-first indexing is a key indicator of the way that Google will be moving in the coming years. Here we’ll take a look at what it means and how you can make sure that your website is ready for any upcoming changes.
To put it simply, Google wants to make sure that the websites it returns in its search results work across a wide variety of devices. In short, this means that the pages on the website should have a responsive web design that scales naturally to any size of screen, whether that screen is on a desktop, tablet or mobile device. Websites that don’t scale naturally or redirect customers on mobile devices to a specific mobile version of the website will receive a small ranking penalty. This won’t push them out of the rankings altogether, but will ensure they appear below other websites that are responsive. It is likely that the weight of this penalty will increase over the coming years as mobile-first indexing continues to be rolled out.
If your website isn’t mobile responsive, then it may require quite a major overhaul in order to prepare it. One short-term stopgap solution is to use Accelerated Mobile Pages, a format that is favoured by Google, to show information to mobile visitors until your new website is ready. This is not a permanent solution but should help to protect your rankings until you get something more robust ready.
Having a mobile responsive website is a great investment that will almost certainly pay dividends in the long-run. While mobile-first indexing is a great reason to make sure your site is up to scratch, you will also enjoy a lower bounce rate and higher customer satisfaction since your site will work better and be easier for your customers to browse.
If you want to make sure that your website is ready for these upcoming changes, get in touch with us today and see what we can do for you.