What Google’s mobile-first Indexing update means for your brand’s website.
In March 2018, Google announced that it would start rolling out mobile-first indexing. Algorithms will eventually focus solely on the mobile versions of websites and will use structured data to better understand a site’s content. This content will also be used to generate snippets in Google’s search results.
Since 2015, more and more people have been performing Google searches from mobile devices, which is what lead Google to pursue this update. This doesn’t mean that there will be a separate mobile index though. This algorithm update will eventually only use mobile web pages to index the web instead of using the desktop versions.
If a business has a separate URL for their mobile and desktop sites, the relevant URL will be displayed to people using that specific device but the content will always be from the mobile version of the site.
This update will be rolled out gradually, giving businesses time to update their sites in order to benefit from mobile-first indexing.
Tips for creating the ultimate mobile-friendly website
Just because your site renders on a mobile device doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s mobile-friendly.
Mobile users will navigate to a website with a specific goal in mind, a fact that you should keep top of mind while optimizing your site.
Below are several ways that you can update your site to provide your visitors with the best possible mobile experience.
- Responsive layouts are the future. In order to meet mobile-first indexing requirements, it’s best to opt for a responsive site that will adapt according to various screen sizes.
- Avoid large or fixed-width elements. Users shouldn’t have to scroll horizontally at any point and they shouldn’t need to pinch to zoom.
- Offer larger image options. This is particularly relevant to e-commerce sites. Users should always be able to view a larger image of what they’re purchasing.
- Don’t launch new windows. Keep users on your site by sticking to one browser window, even if they click on a call to action.
- Tell them why. If you will be asking for a visitor’s location, always tell them why you require that information. Visitors should also be able to insert their location themselves instead of your site automatically populating that field for them.
- Don’t offer visitors a desktop option. In an effort to offer visitors a better mobile experience, don’t give them the option to visit your desktop site on a mobile device as it indicates that your mobile site won’t offer them sufficient information.
Landing Page & Navigation
- Always link your logo to your home page. Users want to easily be able to get back to your home page by clicking on your logo.
- Simplify your menu. The simpler your menu, the better. Mobile users want to get to where they need to be with one click and won’t be willing to scroll through a long menu to find what they’re looking for.
- Make the search field easy to find. To speed up the browsing process, many users will turn to a site’s search feature to find what they’re looking for so make sure that it’s easy to locate. Adding auto-complete, filters and related search query functionality would be an added bonus.
- Make your calls to action prominent. Want visitors to take a particular action? Place your calls to action above the fold for a better user experience.
- Go easy on the promotions. Anything that’s going to hide your content could cause visitors to leave your site so instead of using interstitials to make visitors aware of your promotions, rather place them in between the content on your site.
- Keep it simple. Completing a form should be as simple as possible. Your visitors shouldn’t have to tap too often in order to submit a form.
- Use visual calendars. Using visual calendars means users won’t need to refer to another calendar in order to see dates, days and months, which means they won’t need to leave your site.
- Utilise real-time validation. Users don’t want to have to find out that certain fields aren’t correct once they get to the end of the form and real-time validation eliminates that. It also helps if your fields are labeled clearly to begin with.
- Pre-populate data where possible. Adding autofill functionality to your forms will make it easier for users to complete them.
- Use click-to-call functionality. Users should always be able to tap a link to call your business. The user’s mobile device will then confirm that they want to call the number before proceeding to dial.
- Don’t ask for too many details too soon. Visitors should be able to explore most of your site without having to hand over their details too soon. A study by Google showed that users were frustrated when websites asked them to register up front.
- Offer guest checkout capabilities. In the same study, participants indicated that they preferred guest checkouts because it made the conversion process simpler. It was particularly preferable in situations where having an account didn’t seem relevant for the long term.
Today’s online consumer demands a cohesive and efficient mobile experience so it’s imperative that businesses make this a top priority if they want to continue ranking well in the future.