Google announced in 2016 that they were changing the index algorithm to be more focused on mobile users. Well, the shift is officially happening in March 2021. If your site is not mobile-first ready, it runs the risk of not being indexed or blocked.
What does being mobile-first ready mean?
The mobile version of your site needs to be as content rich and complete as the desktop version.
Do you need to be worried about my site?
If your site was designed or redeveloped within the last few years, you probably already have a “responsive” site. This means that it was built to accommodate desktop, tablet and mobile devices by wrapping and reformatting the content to those device sizes. If, however, your responsive site displays less information in the mobile version than in the desktop version, you may see a drop in indexing.
If you created a separate mobile site specifically for mobile devices (m. site) that is completely separate from the regular www. websites, indexing and subsequently traffic could drop significantly.
Preparing Your Site:
Make sure Googlebot can see your content
Starting in March (and already for all new sites), Google will get the information of your site from the mobile version.
- Block Resources: It is important to ensure that the Googlebot can access the full content and all of your site resources.
- Robot Meta Tags: These should be the same on the mobile version as on the desktop version.
- Lazy-loading: avoid lazy-loading your primary content based on user interactions (like swiping, clicking, or typing)
Make sure primary content is the same on desktop and mobile
If the mobile version of your site has less content than your desktop version, you should update the mobile version so that the content you want to rank with, or the reason users come to your site matches the content in the desktop version. Only the content shown on the mobile version will be used for indexing and ranking in Search.
Structured data on mobile pages
Structured data helps to better understand the content on your pages, and allows Google to “highlight your pages in fancy ways in the search results”. If you use structured data, it should be the same on the mobile and desktop versions of the pages.
Check your images and videos
Images and videos on your mobile version should follow Google’s image best practices and video best practices.
Images that are too small or have a low resolution on the mobile version might not be selected for inclusion in Google Images, or shown as favorably when indexed.
Alt attributes for images
Using generic or meaningless alt attributes could negatively affect how your images are shown in Google Images.
Different image URLs between desktop and mobile version
If your site uses different image URLs for the desktop and mobile version, you may see a temporary traffic loss from Google Images while transitioning to mobile-first indexing.
If your desktop version uses VideoObject structured data to describe videos, make sure the mobile version also includes the VideoObject, with equivalent information. (schema.org)
Video and image placement
Position videos and images in an easy to find location on the mobile version of your pages. Images/videos not well placed affects user experience on mobile devices, and it may prevent them from showing in search.
The point is….
March is rapidly approaching, so don’t delay in checking and updating your site to prevent a negative impact for indexing and ranking. If you’re not sure if your website is ready, you can check it with Google’s Mobile Friendly Test Tool, contact your website manager or reach out to Detati for an audit.