How Mobile Websites Rank Higher under Google’s Mobile-First Indexing

Increase of Mobile Search Volume Compared to Desktop Search

Over the years, the demographics of mobile device users grew dramatically at a rapid pace. As early as October 2015, Google’s Search Chief Amit Singhal announced that searches on mobile devices exceeded the numbers of searches done on desktop computers, in ten (10) countries, including Japan and the United States. In 2016, Google announced that mobile searches account for more than 50 percent of search queries globally.

Further, a study conducted by ComScore across nine (9) global markets revealed that more digital minutes are spent on mobile devices than personal computers (PCs).

Mobile Users vs Deskop Users

Photo Credit: Smart Insights

A recent study also showed that 80 percent of Internet users resort to smart phones, while 47 percent use tablets for online searches.

As mobile devices become the go-to source for online searches, Google has decided to adapt to the changing needs of Internet users. It thus began to place more premium on a website’s mobile performance. While Google releases algorithm updates every so often, in 2018, it unveiled its mobile-first indexing initiative.

Understanding Google’s Mobile-First Indexing

So what is Google’s mobile-first indexing? Ordinarily, Google’s indexing, crawling and ranking technologies use the desktop version of website. With the mobile-first indexing feature, Google now looks at the mobile version of a website first, before it looks at the desktop version.

A website’s mobile version thus becomes the starting point for Google’s indexation, and serves as a baseline for determination of site rankings. Expectedly, crawlbot traffic in mobile websites may increase, specifically Smartphone Googlebot.

To put it simply, Google is crawling and indexing website pages based on how these are rendered on mobile devices, as opposed to how these look on PCs. This feature also helps mobile-oriented content become more visible to searchers on mobile devices.

While it is true that a website that has no mobile version can still be indexed by Google through its desktop version, the lack of a mobile-friendly website can negatively impact rankings. This is because having a mobile website potentially boosts rankings even for searchers using the desktop.

mobile vs desktop indexing

Photo Credit: Moz

Google’s mobile-first indexing feature thus signals the need for your business to adjust its strategies accordingly. Building a mobile-friendly website is now a necessity. A results-oriented mobile SEO strategy is all the more imperative.

Ideal Mobile SEO Practices to Increase Site Rankings

What exactly are the best practices for Google’s mobile-first indexing?

Listed below are ideal mobile SEO practices that can improve your site’s rankings:

  1. Accelerate your page speed.

    The term page speed may describe two things: first, it can mean the time needed to fully display a specific page’s content, often referred to as the page load time or second, the time needed for the web browser to obtain the first byte of information from the server, which is referred to as the time to first byte.

    Either way, Google’s algorithm evaluates a website based on its page speed. Slower page speed translates to longer load times. This tends to negatively affect user engagement, user conversions and help increase bounce rates. Search bots also crawl fewer pages with slow page speed, and this can be detrimental to your website’s indexation.

    Research shows that page speed affects outcomes:

    • revealed that for every second it took for its website to load, it loses 10% of users.
    • found that 47% of people expect a site to load in less than 2 seconds.
    • A study showed that if a shopping transaction is way too slow, 20% of the users simply abandon their cart
    •  Google confirmed that 53% of website visits get abandoned if a website takes more than 3 seconds to load.
    google mobile page speed stat

    Photo Credit: Optin Monster

    Acceleration of page speed can be achieved through the following:

    • Compress or get rid of large files. Keep your website lightweight. File compressors like Gzip, can reduce Javascript, CSS and HTML files which are bigger than 150 bytes.
    • Keep images optimised. Ensure that your images have the right file format. For instance, JPEGs are more suitable for photographs. On the other hand, PNGs are ideal for graphics with less than 16 colours.
    • Minimize redirects. According to Neil Patel, redirects can slow down your site’s load time. In redirects, the process takes up too much time as the server has to find the page which contains the document sought, which is otherwise available at hand when clicking on a normal mobile link.
  2. Setup structured data.

    Structured data refers to the embedded data or on-page markup which helps search engines better understand the information on your website. This way, it becomes easier for the bots to pick up and index website information.Google, along with other search engines, incentivizes implementing structured data correctly by providing benefits to mobile websites. Among these benefits include search result enhancements. Data collected presented by Google become more visible to searchers. This may be in the form of highlighted search results, rich search results, or knowledge graphs which give your mobile website a change to stand out from competition and potentially acquire higher click-through rate.

  3. Valuable content is still key to better rankings.

    The rule remains the same. Both desktop and mobile version of your website should contain valuable, high quality content that is original, informative and meaningful to Google users.Google directs its users to websites with highly engaging content. When searchers find the information they need on your website, they are like to return. This can boost your site traffic and user retention rates and ultimately increase your site rankings.

  4. Integrate social haring into your mobile website.

    Research suggests a strong correlation between social media and site rankings.

    Social Signals Influence SEO

    Photo Credit: Optin Monster

    When users discover something useful or meaningful, chances are they’ll likely share this to their group of friends. Since this sparks curiosity among other users, the latter will likely visit the website.

    This not only generates more potential customers for a brand, it also increases the number of inbound links to a website and improves credibility. The popularity of a mobile website’s content thus sends a positive signal to Google and creates better rankings.

 Implement a Mobile SEO Strategy for your Mobile Site

Because mobile usage is on the verge of overtaking desktop usage in the coming years, it becomes more crucial for businesses to develop a mobile-friendly website that is optimized to cater to the search behavior of mobile device users. If you want know if your website is mobile-friendly and compliant with Google’s mobile-first indexing, get in touch with us.