Get Ready for the Shift to Mobile First Index

By 29th December 2016 SEO
image of a smartphone

Searches on mobile have been increasing rapidly in the past few years thanks to the advent of smartphones, which often have the same or greater power than many people’s desktop. For the first time ever the searches coming from mobile have actually outstripped those coming from desktop. This study demonstrates that whilst 48.7% of searches comes from desktop there is 51.3% coming from mobile and tablet.

Google have noticed this trend, as they have more data than any researcher could ever hope for, and have decided to experiment with a mobile-first index with a view to introducing it in 2017. Here are a few tips in how to get your website ready for the new mobile-first index.

Responsive Web Design

First things first, does your site have a responsive web design? By that we mean does your web page change what it serves to users based on the platform they are using. If you search your website on desktop and mobile do you get websites with the same content, just formatted differently? If you already have a responsive web design then this may not apply to you. However, if you are serving the same page to desktop and mobile then it would help to update your site to provide a mobile friendly content or even a purely mobile site. If you aren’t sure then you can check using a tool google provide here.

 

Focus on User Experience (UX)

You should also focus on the experience the user has on your site and make sure your mobile friendly site is easy and intuitive to use. If you’re an eCommerce site, then a focus on UX will also help your conversion rate. In order to optimise your UX for mobile we recommend putting the main content at the top of the page to ensure it is the first thing your users see.

We also suggest removing any Flash plugins and pop ups present on your site. Whilst this may attract attention to certain offers or pages you want to target, excessive pop ups will cause people to leave your site. You also need to keep in mind that people will be using their phone so you should take advantage of this by ensuring that your phone number, hopefully included in the header of your page, is a tap to call button. Finally, you should keep in mind that fingers are not as accurate as a mouse on desktop so it would help the UX to use buttons and drop down menus to navigate your site.

 

Site Speed

Site speed is both a ranking measurement used by Google and a key factor in the UX on your site. This is because people will just leave rather than wait for your site to load. The ideal website has a load time of under two seconds but the faster the better! You can test how both Google and visitors are viewing your website by using the Fetch & Render tool. If you see portions of your site coming up blank this suggests your site is slow in loading. The best way to test which portions of your site need optimising is to use the GT Metrix tool, which will measure your sites performance on all site speed aspects.

 

Final Check: Robots.txt Tester

Once you have completed all the UX and Site Speed updates on your brand new mobile friendly page (if you didn’t already have one) then there is just one final check. You should use the robots.txt file tester to ensure Google can crawl your mobile site. It would be a shame if all that work you did on your mobile site went unnoticed! If there are no problems, you can rest assured that your site is all prepped for the mobile-first shift. If you find that your site is blocked by the robots.txt file you will need to update this to ensure that google can crawl your site.

 

For further optimisation tips get in touch!