With the trend of more people accessing the Internet with their smartphones, Google announced that it would be moving away from a desktop indexing algorithm to a mobile-first indexing algorithm. Last year, I wrote about Google’s new mobile-first indexing plan. A little later, Google began testing a limited number of websites to verify that their new algorithm was working properly. At a recent PubCon, Google’s Gary Illyes announced that Google is applying the mobile-first index ratings to more websites.
Mobile-first indexing has begun
A recent check of the web server logs for the websites I manage revealed that there is a new Googlebot crawling the web pages. This Googlebot looks at the website and indexes it from a mobile-first perspective. The desktop Googlebot is still indexing several websites which means the mobile-first indexing is not fully implemented but it is only a matter of time before Google switches to the fully mobile-first indexing.
What does this mean for websites that were created for the desktop? Google will still index these websites, but they will use their mobile-first bot to crawl the website. Non-responsive desktop websites will not rank as high as responsive websites. Some estimates suggest that only 30% of small business websites are mobile ready.
How do you keep your page ranking?
So, how do you ensure that your website does not lose its page ranking? Consider making your website responsive. There are numerous frameworks available (Bootstrap, Foundation, and W3CSS) that you can incorporate into your website. For WordPress users, there are lots of responsive themes available. Having a responsive website means your website automatically serves up web pages to a variety of devices (desktop, laptop, tablet, and smartphone).
You can also have a desktop and a mobile version of your website (commonly known as an m-dot version and characterized by an m. in front of the domain name). The web server determines the visitor’s device and serves up the appropriate web page for the device. Most times, the m-dot page contains less content than the desktop version. For pages with less content, you may see a lower ranking. Additionally, you will have to maintain two versions of your website.
Check your website
Google has created a testing webpage that will examine your website for mobile-friendliness and speed. The results will show you how fast your web page loads and the estimated visitor loss (mobile visitors who won’t wait for your web page to load). The test also compares your web page with other web pages in your industry (and the top performers). You can also download a report that describes areas where you should make improvements to your website. If your web page has a slow loading time and is not mobile-friendly, then you should consider updating your website. If you have an outdated website, then now is the time to update it and include efforts to make your website ready for mobile-first indexing.