If you are an SEO professional or you run an online business, then you have heard about Google’s big announcement. They will start to maintain a mobile-first index system. Concern has grown for business owners and SEO professionals about how the shift will affect their and websites search engine rankings. Here you will learn about what mobile-first index means and how the update will impact your website.
What does mobile first indexing mean?
You cannot get the concept if you don’t understand how search engines crawl and index your page content. Every search engine comprises four components that guide their bot algorithms. These include indexing, crawling, rankings and retrieval.
• Indexing – it is the process search engines converts webpage content into something that the ranking algorithm can use and stores that information in the database.
• Crawl- this is how search engines follow your web links to discover page content.
• Retrieval- It is how the search engine is able to identify everything that is relevant in respect to a certain search query from a user.
• Ranking- It is the result of the above three processes. Based on several ranking factors search engines assign relevance values to a site and SEO professionals and website owners obsess over the rankings.
As it stands, Google uses the same bot to crawl and index relevant data. This bot was applying the index sequence to desktop searches and mobile searches. However, due to the increase in the number of mobile phone users they are planning to create a separate indexing bot for mobile called the Google mobile bot which will determine how mobile-friendly a website is. Previously, Google was receiving numerous complaints where the user identifies something relevant to their search query on a snippet, but when they click on it, they are redirected to a different page that does not have the snippet they had identified earlier. The inconvenience was affecting the user experience, and that is when the decision to create a mobile first index sequence was made.
How will it impact your site?
There are three things you need to know and examine your site.
• Is it responsive?
• Does it have the mobile and desktop version?
• Or no mobile version at all?
Let us examine how it will impact these three scenarios.
If your website is responsive, then you are in the clear; the update will have no effect on your SEO rankings whatsoever. You have already complied with the requirements for the new indexing sequence.
Have both mobile and desktop versions
If it has both versions, then the mobile-friendly version of your website will be crawled by the new bot, and it will be indexed. The content on the desktop version will not be crawled, and hence it will not be indexed. These websites will, therefore, not be impacted but no need to worry yet. You can convert your website into a responsive one in just a few minutes. You can either edit your website code to insert a responsive functionality code, or you can use a plugin.
Has no mobile version
This website will still be crawled by the Google mobile bot and still get indexed. However, your ranking will be lower compared to mobile-friendly websites. In 2015, Google updated their search engines with mobilegeddon which made it very hard to for mobile unfriendly websites to rank high. However, the new update will have no impact whatsoever on the websites with no mobile version. It will only make it hard for them to rank. If after examining your site you realized it is not responsive, you need to make it responsive and give your SEO rankings a fighting chance.
Why should you shift?
If your website is not mobile-friendly in 2017, then you are missing out. You are basically telling over 55% of the web users that you do not value them and you do not want their business. Google’s update to mobile-first indexing shows that they are preferring mobile to desktop and you should too. The biggest number of web users access through their mobile phones, and so you should not underestimate their traffic.
When is it launching?
Lucky for you, you still have some time to make the move; in an SMX advance conference in June this year, Google said they do not have a timeline yet, but they are looking into 2018. They also said they would flip the switch when the quality is neutral meaning when the shift will only make the search results and ranking better.
If you want your business to continue being relevant in the coming years, you need to move with the tide. Failure to comply, you will be running an obsolete business that will be overtaken by events. Google cares about user experience, if the updated bot decides you websites user experience is poor, you will not stand a chance against your progressive competitors.
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