In response to the rapid growth of mobile search, Google is adding a key component to their search algorithms: mobile-first indexing. Given the fact that the majority of local searches are now conducted by smartphone users, it only makes sense for Google to adjust its ranking algorithms accordingly.
The writing has been on the wall for a few years that mobile phones were taking over local search. Around May 2015, it was announced that more than half of all Google searches were performed on mobile devices. By August 2016, that number approached sixty percent. As we head into 2018, mobile search is showing no signs of slowing down. It’s Mobilegeddon!
What is Mobile-First Indexing?
The name is fairly straight-forward! Instead of crawling and ranking a website based on its full-screen, desktop/laptop appearance, Google will now make its primary evaluation of a site based on how it appears and performs on a mobile device.
Because roughly two-thirds of local searches are performed using phones, Google is adjusting their algorithm to place primary importance on mobile devices. Computer and laptops are taking a back seat from a ranking relevancy standpoint.
Many businesses have updated their websites in the last couple of years. Those who already updated should have nothing to worry about, as long as the onsite SEO has been applied correctly. However, this algorithm change could hurt practices that have not updated their website for several years, as well as practices that have outdated secondary mobile solutions (or no mobile solution at all).
Is My Website Ready for Mobile-First Indexing?
The biggest factors on mobile search heading into 2018 are load time and usability. Your website must load quickly, offer useful information, and be easy to use on a phone.
If a site is slow to load, it will receive low marks for visitor engagement and mobile performance. Remember that many mobile searches are conducted while the user is connected to a cellular network or shoddy WiFi; modern sites need to load fast and work seamlessly.
Another vital component of mobile-first indexing is simple, intuitive site navigation. You can’t force consumers to squint, scroll, and scan for important information, because they just won’t do it. People today are impatient and expect instant gratification. Business owners and web designers must work hard to make their websites fast and easy for consumers.
One of the biggest culprits of slow load time is images that are too large. When images are optimized for the Internet, they need to be compressed and/or resized with mobile users in mind. Images that look great on a computer might not look so great on a phone. Business owners need to plan and test their websites with mobile users in mind.
What Will Happen if My Website Isn’t Updated?
Outdated websites could drop significantly in the search results. Among the roughly 200 ranking signals used by Google to evaluate a website, some of the most important ranking signals are authority, relevance, and site design.
If a website is poorly optimized for mobile users, then it loses relevance, specifically for mobile searches. As the site’s relevancy score drops, so does its authority. If Google determines that a website lacks relevance and authority, then Google is unlikely to rank the site favorably. Failure to update your website could result in a domino effect that causes your ranking to fall way behind your competitors.
My Website is Already Responsive – What’s Next?
A website is never fully complete; there is always room for improvement. Test your website on every iPhone, Android, Samsung, iPad, and tablet you can get your hands on. Look for flaws in the design or quirks in the appearance of the site that might only show on certain devices. Also, test your website in multiple browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Internet Explorer.
Internet Explorer has grown very outdated and may not be compatible with some of the latest website design platforms and components. Microsoft stopped offering technical support and security updates for older versions of Internet Explorer. If you have a new website, check it in Internet Explorer to determine if your webmaster needs to take additional steps to improve its appearance and performance for individuals using the outdated Internet browser.
You may also want to ask your webmaster if your site has Schema markup, which is code that goes on a website to help search engines return more informative results. Schema markup is the driving force behind featured snippets appearing in search results.
In today’s consumer marketplace, the website is where you make your first impression with potential patients, and it is also your most powerful selling tool. An outdated website tells prospective patients that your practice and your treatment modalities are outdated, too. Don’t make this mistake! Update your website and keep those new patients coming in.
Still unsure how mobile-first indexing will impact you? To schedule a free website evaluation and learn more about your options, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (877) 295-5611.