Google is often in the news, sharing regular updates and enhancements to their services. You have likely heard about their significant conversion to mobile-first indexing of websites for quite some time. This transition was to have taken place in 2020, but the Coronavirus pandemic pushed their plans back a bit.
Now, Google plans to drop all desktop indexing entirely and move to Full-Mobile Indexing by March 2021.
What does this mean for you, the small business owner?
Websites Without Mobile Optimization to Disappear from Google Search
Google is clear: “In mobile-first indexing, we will only get the information of your site from the mobile version, so make sure Googlebot can see the full content and all resources there.”
Simply put, if your website is not mobile-friendly you will no longer appear in Google’s organic search results. This update has the potential to decimate small business search traffic and the time to prepare is now.
Historically, Google crawled desktop sites first and only considered the mobile site to be the alternate version. However, according to John Mueller, Google’s Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst, this move will have Google bots only indexing mobile content. It will ignore any content found on the desktop version of a website.
Mueller adds, “we noticed that people are still often confused about this, with regards to, if I only have something on desktop, surely Google will still see that, and it will also take into account the mobile content. But actually, it is the case that we will only index the mobile content in the future.”
Mobile indexing doesn’t just affect written content. It will impact images and any files, too, virtually any content missing from your mobile format.
Why is Google making this change?
Google’s rationale is to match the drastic shift to predominantly mobile usage over the years, which has grown 222%, and only continues to accelerate. We know that 53% of all global users and 63% of U.S. searches originate on mobile devices. Additionally, as Google’s focus is on continually improving the overall user experience, a mobile-only indexing function will increase indexing speed for all content on the internet.
How the Mobile-First Index Affects Your Web Presence
Without a mobile ready website, even high-quality content will be left unindexed by Google. This will certainly negatively impact your search rankings—in fact, your website will no longer appear in Google’s search results at all if your website is not mobile-responsive.
Your content across both mobile and desktop formats must be consistent to avoid any problems with this transition. Several technical areas need to be reviewed for inconsistencies and errors for a mobile-optimized website, including:
- Structured data
- Meta Robots tags
- Ad placements
- Videos and photos
Great User Experience (UX) and mobile usability are crucial functions in improving your website ranking, too. Google will boost visibility to sites that prioritizes quality content creation for readers.
Improving user experience includes good overall content that is relevant content for your site’s topic and optimized placement of photos to add to the value of the information for your readers. Developing an organized URL structure to find information quickly also impacts good usability.
Page speed is a common user experience problem with business websites. Consumers tend to bounce when website pages do not load fast, impacting not just views but also conversion rates. Small technical issues like this can add up, affecting potential customers from viewing your site.
Google’s move to mobile indexing will be particularly challenging for businesses with larger or older M-dot structured websites. Mueller also shared that Google will not send desktop users from the search engine results pages (SERPs) to the desktop version. As a result, Google will end up sending desktop users to the m-dot mobile version. Depending on your website’s set up, this could vastly affect your customer’s overall user experience.
Not Sure if You Have a Mobile-Optimized Website Ready for this Google Update?
Find out how these changes may impact your business and its web presence. We can help you achieve a mobile-optimized website quickly and affordably. Contact us and let’s see how we can help.