In 2016 Google announced that it would be changing the way its algorithm would index and rank sites, by switching to a mobile-first crawl, and it seems as though the time has almost come for the search engine’s new index to be rolled out. Here we explore what this means and how it will impact future web design and development.
What is a mobile-first index?
Currently, Google indexes a website the desktop version of a site in the first instance, followed by the mobile version. This means that the desktop version of a website was given slightly more importance than its mobile counterpart. With Google’s mobile-first index, this importance will be switched, and sites will be ranked based on their mobile version within search engines, even if a user is searching on a desktop.
This is an obvious step forward for the search engine as users are now dominantly using mobile devices for search, with research finding 69% of consumers (aged 18-39) will begin their search on a mobile device prior to purchase. Although the index has yet to be fully rolled out experts believe this change is imminent, therefore, it is essential that websites worldwide require a review to ensure that the mobile version of their site will not impact upon their rankings.
How will this impact web design and development?
Google has long been placing mobile responsiveness as a high priority, and therefore web developers have been required to ensure a site can be easily accessed and navigated across multiple devices; however, their mobile first index will take web design and development to an entirely new level as in theory, a mobile website should be designed first and foremost, with desktop adapting from this version.
Here are our tips to prepare for a mobile-first index:
Make mobile a priority
Ensure your website, moving forward, takes into account your mobile site as a priority, that it is easy to navigate and user friendly.
With more and more devices being marketed every year, your site needs to respond to each device, from mobile, tablet, laptop to desktop.
Ensure all content can be seen across all devices – some content may be lost moving from desktop to mobile.
Review your robots.txt
Make sure your mobile version can be indexed by Google by reviewing your site’s robots.txt.
Choose the ideal web design partner
Choosing a web designer and development partner that has a clear understanding of how a website should be designed and built so that it is optimised for search engine indexing.