What Google’s Mobile-First Indexing Means for Your Website Design

We recently made you aware that Google is currently in the testing phase for transitioning from a desktop-first index to a mobile-first index. This means that the new Google index will first look at the mobile version of your website when ranking content.
If you’re surprised by this change, you shouldn’t be. Google began talking about its mobile-first indexing update more than a year ago. With so many people now using mobile devices to perform searches, it only makes sense that Google and other search engines are going to put more emphasis on mobile.

While Google is still in the experimentation stage with mobile-first indexing, here are several ways to optimize your website design now for this impending change:

1. Improve the speed of your website.
Today’s consumers expect your website to load in under 3 seconds, and this is especially true for those accessing your website from a mobile device. Here are a few effective tips for increasing the speed of your website:

  • Use correct image sizes so the browser does not have to resize them.
  • Remove any unnecessary characters from your source code.
  • Limit the number of redirects.

2. Don’t block CSS, JavaScript, or Images.
In the past, it was recommended to block these three elements to improve the mobile browsing experience. However, smartphones have evolved a great deal and, in many cases, are more powerful than desktop computers. Blocking them will take away from the user experience and make it more difficult for Google to categorize your content.

3. Make your website design mobile-friendly.
Most people agree that responsive website design is the way to go as it provides for the optimal user experience. However, whether you choose to have a responsive website or a separate mobile version of your website, make these enhancements to increase the mobile-friendliness of your website:

  • Eliminate Flash as iPhone users won’t be able to view your Flash elements.
  • Dump the pop-ups as they create a frustrating user experience on mobile devices.
  • Design with the finger navigator in mind since mobile users rely on their fingers to scroll and browse the web.

4. Keep titles and descriptions concise and to the point.
This will allow Google to more accurately determine the relevancy of your web page when ranking content. In addition, being concise will give users a better idea of what your content is all about.

5. Optimize for local search.
Mobile searchers are ready to take action and optimizing your website for local search will allow you to reap the benefits. Here are several tips for increasing your mobile visibility in local search results:

  • Include your city and state in the title tag
  • Include your city and state in the URL
  • Include your city and state in the content
  • Include your city and state in the meta description

By being proactive and taking action now to prepare your website design for mobile-first indexing, you’ll be ahead of the curve and improve your visibility in mobile search results.

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