Mobile-First Indexing Best Practices

Mobile-First Indexing Best Practices

Ensuring Your Site Thrives in a Mobile-First World

Google recently announced a migration to mobile-first indexing. This means that, starting from 5th July, all websites need to be optimized for mobile, otherwise they face not being indexed by Google.

Getting to grips with mobile-first indexing

It’s been a number of years now since Google started prioritising mobile-first indexing. Traditionally, the desktop version was the main version considered.

However, with around 92% of all adults in Switzerland owning a smartphone, it’s no surprise that Google now prioritises the mobile version for indexing and ranking.

As such, if your site isn't optimised for mobile, you could experience a negative impact on your search rankings.
Let’s talk mobile-first indexing

What exactly is mobile-first indexing?

Mobile-first indexing means that, after 5th July 2024, Google’s crawler (also known as a smartphone agent) will prioritise indexing the mobile version of a site’s content over its desktop version. If your site isn’t accessible from a mobile device, Google won’t index it anymore, meaning it won’t be ranked.

So if your site doesn’t load on iPhone or Android, some changes definitely need to be made.

Why mobile-first?

Anyone who walks down the street can see the impact that smartphones – and mobile internet access – have had on our lives. Smartphone usage is EVERYWHERE. Therefore, this shift towards mobile-first indexing actually seems like a natural progression from desktop indexing.

Google currently uses the mobile version of a site for indexing and ranking more than the desktop version. In fact, they’ve stated that they predominantly use the mobile version of a site’s content, crawled with the smartphone agent, for indexing and ranking.

Consequently, it’s so important that your site is optimised for mobile-first indexing. This will help to maintain and improve your site’s search engine visibility. And with better search engine visibility comes increased traffic, engagement and conversions.

Want to know which best practices you need to adopt to help your site thrive in a mobile-first world? Keep reading…

Best practices for mobile-first indexing

1. Responsive web design

A responsive web design is one of the most important elements of a mobile-first design. Having a responsive website means that your site adapts to different devices and screen sizes. First of all, this is completely in line with Google’s mobile-first indexing recommendations. Not only that, but it also enhances user experience.

To make your site as responsive as possible, be sure to implement the following:

Fluid Grids: Use flexible grid layouts that adjust to the screen size.

Flexible Images: Ensure images scale correctly to fit different screen sizes.

Media Queries: Implement CSS media queries to apply different styles based on the device's characteristics.

A responsive site also serves the same HTML code on the same URL, no matter which device it’s being accessed from. From there, the content will be adapted to fit the size of the screen it’s being viewed on, whether that’s a smartphone, a tablet, a desktop or a non-visual browser.

According to Google, responsive web design is the best design pattern to opt for as it’s easy to implement and maintain.

2. Keep the same content on desktop & mobile versions

Make sure that the content featured on your desktop and mobile sites is the same, including text, images, videos and links. Otherwise, Google won’t understand your content in the same way, and your site will rank for different keywords on each version.

When a user switches to the mobile version of your site, their experience with your content should be very similar. Yes, you can adjust the design for enhanced user experience, but the content shouldn’t change drastically.

Aside from having consistent content, also consider:

Structured data: Maintain consistency in structured data across both versions of your site.

Metadata: Make sure that meta tags (including meta titles and meta descriptions) are the same on both versions.

3. Ensure your site loads quickly

Page load speed is crucial for user experience and SEO. If your site loads slowly, this can cause higher bounce rates and lower rankings.
To check your site’s speed, use PageSpeed Insights (PSI) tools. These tools provide information on the mobile and desktop experience of your pages, as well as suggestions on how you could improve those pages.

How to ensure your site loads quickly:

Reduce the use of heavy JavaScript: When you overuse JavaScript, it can slow down the load times of your pages.

Image optimisation: While gorgeous images are a huge plus, make sure you compress them to reduce their size – without compromising on quality.

Browser caching: Leverage browser caching to improve load times for returning visitors.

Content Delivery Network (CDN): Use a CDN to distribute your content across various servers worldwide. This will reduce page load times.

4. Implement mobile-friendly website navigation

Navigating through your site from a mobile device should always be an intuitive and user-friendly experience.

Here’s what you need to implement:

Simplified menus: Use hamburger menus or simplified navigation to avoid clutter.

Tap targets: Make sure that buttons and links are decently sized and spaced and appropriately located. This makes them easier to tap on – and less frustrating for users.

Breadcrumbs: Breadcrumbs are a series of clickable links showing the user’s journey. They enhance navigation and provide a better user experience.

5. Use a Mobile-Friendly Test tool

Regularly test your website using a Mobile-Friendly Test tool. Such tools provide insights into how well it’s performing on mobile devices and offers recommendations for improvement.

Be sure to:

Test regularly: Conduct tests on a regular basis to quickly catch and fix issues.

Address Issues: Each tool should feature recommendations designed to help you enhance mobile usability. Make sure you act on them!

Use Google Search Console tools. These tools help you measure your site’s online traffic and performance. They also help you to fix issues and make your site stand out in Google search results.

6. Optimize for local search

Mobile users are far more likely to perform local searches. This means that local SEO is crucial.

To improve local search results for your business, use:

Google Business Profiles: Ensure your business is listed and optimised on Google Business Profiles.

Local keywords: Use location-based keywords to target local search queries.

‘NAP’ consistency: Make sure your business name, address and phone number are consistent everywhere. Wherever your business has a mention or a presence, ensure this information is identical. Don’t
forget your business name too!

7. Implement Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

AMP is a website-optimisation tactic. It allows you to create fast-loading, mobile-optimised website pages.

While AMP isn't a ranking factor, it does have the power to significantly enhance user experience. This leads to better engagement, which will certainly help to improve your rankings.

AMP HTML: Use AMP HTML to create lightweight pages.

AMP Cache: Use the AMP cache to speed up page delivery.

AMP Analytics: Implement AMP analytics to track user interactions on AMP pages.

8. Optimize for voice search

With around 4.2 billion voice assistants in use (a number set to double by the end of 2024), it’s clear just how important it is to optimise for voice search.

Here’s what you need to do to:

Insert conversational keywords: Use natural language and long-tail keywords that align with how users speak.

Create or update FAQ pages: Update your current FAQs or create new FAQ pages that address common questions related to your business.

Check your Structured Data: Structured data is used to help search engines better understand the content of your pages. If you have structured data on your site, ensure it’s present on both versions of your site.

9. Prioritise Core Web Vitals

Core Web Vitals are a set of metrics that measure real-world user experience of your website. They relate to speed, responsiveness and visual stability, all of which are crucial for user experience.

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): Ensure your main content loads quickly.

First Input Delay (FID): Optimise for quick interactivity.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): Minimise unexpected layout shifts to improve visual stability.

10. Check your ads placement

Make sure you follow the Better Ads Standard for displaying your ads on mobile devices. For instance, if you place ads at the top of a page, this can take up a lot of space on a mobile device, which can put users off.

Does your website adopt mobile-first indexing best practices?

Indexing the mobile version of your site requires updating various aspects of your site. However, this is all crucial in enhancing your website’s mobile presence.

Want better search rankings and user engagement? Reach out to the experts at EWM! Our team will ensure these strategies are properly implemented into your site.

Contact EWM.



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