On Monday, Google announced that after a year of testing, it’s now rolling out mobile-first indexing for websites. Traditionally, Google’s index has used desktop versions of site pages to evaluate content. However, with the majority of Google searches now taking place on mobile devices, this move seeks to better align the index (and search engine results) with the mobile content.
This move doesn’t come with ranking advantages at this time; instead, it is meant to improve one aspect of how Google approaches its overall index in a world increasingly ruled by mobile. However, it’s an important development for any site owner interested in staying up-to-date with Google’s algorithm, while improving user experience, search performance, and mobile reach.
Here’s a brief historical recap:
- Before the iPhone’s launch in 2007, we all accessed websites using desktop or laptop computers. True story.
- Once smartphones took off, we were OK with pinching and zooming the viewport to read tiny website text for awhile. There was no alternative.
- Some developers started rolling out mobile-only versions of websites, but that meant additional development cost and double the upkeep for the life of the websites. Needless to say, the mobile experience was just “good enough.”
- In 2010, Ethan Marcotte coined the term Responsive Design and introduced us to the “media queries” that power this new approach. This enabled site owners to maintain a single desktop-driven website that automatically adapted to smaller, mobile devices using an approach of “graceful degradation.” In other words, mobile was a second-class citizen, and it was acceptable for mobile users to have a less polished, or even a stripped down experience.
- Mobile traffic has exploded in recent years, overtaking traffic from desktop computers. This has ushered in the need to shift focus on a mobile-first approach. Mobile-first is about favoring mobile devices, and making sure everything ANY user requires is accounted for on small screens. This approach uses an approach of “progressive enhancement” for larger screens.
Reminder to Speed Up
Don’t ignore page load speed! Another core consideration of mobile-first web design is page loading speed. Google announced earlier this year that by July 2018, slow site speed will have a negative effect on ranking for mobile and desktop searches.
If it’s time to fix a problem or redesign your website for “mobile-first,” call us at (281) 980-4900 for a free consultation and estimate.