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What Google’s Mobile-First Index Means for Your Website and SEO

For a while now, the importance of having a website that provides as good a user experience on mobile devices as it does on desktops has been well known and documented.

A larger percentage of Internet users interact with the web via a phone or tablet than they do on a desktop, and there is no sign of that trend changing anytime soon. In fact, there are 3.5 billion mobile users worldwide as of August 2017.

Even with mobile’s large percentage of internet users, it has been possible for many businesses to not heavily invest in the mobile version of their site and still rank well with their SEO.

With Google’s soon to be implemented mobile-first index, that is about to change for good.

What Is the Mobile-First Index?

As you may or may not be aware, there are many factors that Google takes into consideration when ranking websites. Everything on a page including, but not limited to, the keywords used in the title, the backlinks pointing to the page, and the quality of the content determine where the page falls.

Up to this point, Google has always used the desktop version of a page to find and evaluate its many ranking factors.

With the mobile-first index, it will soon be the mobile version of the page which receives this scrutiny.

Why Should Businesses Care?

If your business’s website does not have a mobile version or isn’t responsive, there’s a good chance it looks terrible on a mobile device.

If that is still the case when the mobile-first index is implemented (we don’t have an exact date yet, but most estimate it will occur sometime in early 2018), your website may disappear entirely from the search results which can mean massive negative impacts for your business.

But don’t freak out just yet. There is still time to adapt before the mobile-first rollout.

Perform a Mobile Parity Audit

The main way that the mobile-first index can mess with your website’s rankings is if the mobile and desktop versions of your site differ in the content that they provide. It is not uncommon for web designers and SEO’s to decide to remove chunks of text from the mobile version of a site to streamline the user experience. However with the mobile-first index, there’s a good chance that this discrepancy could lead to a drop in rankings.

A mobile parity audit is a great way to find any of these discrepancies across the desktop and mobile versions of your site. Once you’ve identified any differences, make sure your mobile version is giving the same strong ranking signals as your desktop version.

Consider Making Your Website Responsive

A responsive website is one that dynamically displays its content based on the user’s screen size. This means it should look as good and display the same content no matter if you view it on a desktop, phone, or tablet.

If your website is responsive, you do not need to worry about any discrepancies between the mobile and desktop versions of your site. Therefore, Google’s change to the mobile-first index won’t be something to get too worried about.

If the upcoming mobile-first index has you concerned, the experts at Ruby Porter Marketing & Design would love to help make sure you’re prepared for it. Contact us today!

Ruby Porter is a full service digital marketing and advertising agency in Eugene, Oregon that works with clients all over the country. We're here to share our best tips and favorite trends for SEO, marketing, website and app user design. Contact us to see how we can help boost your brand!

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