The Internet continues to be visited by an increasing share of mobile traffic. As people continue to shift their time from the big screen to the small, search engines are taking notice, modifying their own websites to optimize for mobile usage. Google in particular is catering to mobile users by releasing many changes to make the Google experience more friendly for those visiting from tablets or phones. It has rolled out a mobile-first version of its index which may have an interesting impact on those who do search engine optimization (SEO) or own websites.
The mobile-first index treats mobile versions as the primary homepage of any given website and treats the normal desktop version as a secondary version. The rollout on this change is mean to be gradual as is the case with most major updates. It will likely be several months before it is in full effect and has the potential to drastically impact rankings, especially for sites which do not offer mobile-friendly pages or mobile versions of their websites.
This is not the first time that Google has made major changes to its algorithms in favor of mobile viewing and it is likely to not be the last time given trends. Major changes in 2015 and 2016 also tried to push the web towards becoming more mobile friendly. Mobile friendliness includes quick load times, having content on the screen without needing horizontal scrolling or zooming and the ability to interact with visible buttons.
Google even offers a mobile-friendly test on their website for webmasters to get a glimpse into how the search giant views their websites. Specifically, the tool gives feedback on any pages that might be lacking from what Google deems friendly. One of the things you need to keep in mind here with regards to mobile SEO is that consistency between the desktop homepage and the mobile homepage is still important when it comes to things like content. It is really the structure of the content and the layout that is likely to be modified between the two platforms.
In addition to these changes, Google has also rolled out Accelerated Mobile Pages which allow for quicker access to content for users. This is something that webmasters can opt into by following the guidelines provided by the framework.
If you are looking to get an edge in the mobile space, it may be beneficial to look into this sort of option. Other things that you can do are to make sure that your sites are fully mobile compliant- preferably by using a responsive design on your website. Also, you should check to make sure that the content is equivalent between the desktop version and the mobile version of your site. You may even want to consider building out a standalone app which would give you maximal flexibility and allow for optimal user experience. Some Google followers think that eventually, the search giant will favor apps to regular websites for mobile devices. Apps have a lot of advantages over traditional websites and it isn’t crazy to think that Google may like them more one day.
Google has shown that they are serious about a mobile friendly web and webmasters will surely start to comply with the new expectations more and more as time passes. It will be crucial to adhere to these rules and so it is better to start early rather than later- because starting now really means that you give yourself a potential edge as others scramble and lag to keep up. The world and the web are going mobile- the only way forward is real to embrace this change and make the most of it.