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10 Important Things to Know About Google’s Mobile-First Index

Mobile-First Index

The World Wide Web is constantly changing. From new social media platforms to changing consumer habits, business owners are learning to transform their marketing techniques and adapt. One of the most important aspects of online marketing is search engine optimization, or your SEO strategy.

Your SEO tactics affect your website’s ranking on social media. In December 2016, Google announced it is beginning to experiment transition to a mobile-first index, so how exactly will this affect your rankings?

Google’s mobile-first index plans to rank websites on their mobile appearance and functionality with more weight than that of their desktop version. To help you begin optimizing your website, here are 10 things you need to know about Google’s changing algorithm!

1. If your website already has a responsive design or is a dynamic serving site, you shouldn’t need to make any major changes.

Over the past few years, Google’s ranking algorithm has pushed businesses to become mobile-friendly. Mobile-friendly websites are those that are responsive on desktop computers, laptops and mobile devices.

2. If you aren’t certain your website is mobile-friendly, you can test it online with Googlebot.

Google’s robots.txt. testing tool uses Googlebot to check whether or not your website is accessible and functional through a mobile device. This will help you decipher what changes, if any, you need to make.

3. A fully functional desktop site is better than a non-functional mobile site.

A broken mobile website will only hurt your SEO rankings. If your website is hosted only for desktop, it will be ranked only on desktop factors. This means that you are better off waiting to launch your mobile website until you’ve ironed out all of the kinks.

4. Boost website loading speeds to further increase your rankings.

Whether desktop- or mobile-first index, your website’s loading speed is a major factor in your SEO ranking and conversion rates. You can help your website load faster by:

  • Using smaller image sizes (you can learn the different photo file types here)
  • Condensing website code by getting rid of unnecessary parts
  • Reducing website redirects
RELATED: AFFORDABLE SEO TIPS FOR EVERY BUDGET

5. Blocking CSS, Javascript, or images isn’t as helpful as it used to be.

Before mobile devices were able to navigate the web, CSS, Javascript and images tended to bog down websites and decrease their functionality. Today, these devices are extremely powerful, and like Googlebot, can easily navigate and categorize this content.

6. Give Flash the boot.

With the birth of Apple came the death of Flash. Consumers using Apple mobile devices, such as iPhones, iPads and iPods, can’t view flash content on their devices. So dump flash and start creating content with HTML or Java for your website. 

7. Make websites “finger-friendly.”

Mobile devices require users to navigate with their fingers or a stylus. Optimize your website so that consumers’ fingers can easily click, tap and scroll on your website. The best way to test this out is with your own two hands!

RELATED: USE INFOGRAPHICS TO BOOST SEO RANKINGS

8. Amplify your local optimization for consumers in your neighborhood.

Consumers that search on their mobile devices for a business are more likely to visit a business that same day. You can increase your ranking in local searches by including your business’s location (city and state) in your website’s:

  • Title tag
  • H1 heading
  • URL
  • Content
  • Alt tags
  • Meta description

9. Don’t avoid using videos and audio on your website.

One of the hardest parts of SEO strategy is finding a way to incorporate video and audio content into your website. Although Google’s algorithm cannot read through these types of content, mobile content performs better when it is shorter and presented in video and audio formats. You can help your website rank for this content by placing a transcript of the video and audio on your webpage.

10. Like all other SEO strategy, always consider consumer experience.

Consumer experience is the number one driver of business. Those who have a positive experience will continue to do business with you. It is vital that you understand what content your target market is looking for and optimize it for your website, so it can be found easily.

2016 is coming to a quick close. The start of the new year is a perfect opportunity to evaluate your SEO strategy and modify it to fit Google’s new mobile-first index. Although the index is in experimental stages, it’s never too late to start prepping your website—consider it a New Year’s resolution!