Blog / Emerging tech trends

Apr 10/17

Mobile-first Indexing

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We all are aware of the importance of mobile-friendly websites nowadays due to the increase in smartphone and tablet adoption. If SEO is a core component of your digital marketing strategy, then having a mobile–friendly website is quite necessary.

Nowadays most people seek the help of a mobile device to perform Google search. But since ranking systems still rely upon desktop version of a page’s content it may lead to issues when the mobile page has less content than the desktop page and because our algorithms are not evaluating the actual page that is seen by a mobile searcher.

Mobile-first indexing was the first step towards solving such problems by making the algorithms use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results. This provides an opportunity to build a great search experience for all users, whether they come from mobile or desktop devices.

We all know that mobile sales have already overtaken desktop sales, and now mobile Internet usage is expected to overtake desktop internet usage by the year 2014. In the near future, we may witness mobile search overtaking desktop search as well.
Due to wide acceptance of the mobile-friendly website, companies that rely on SEO have initiated the transition to mobile-friendly websites, and responsive web design specifically.

Even though, whether to choose a responsive website or a separate mobile website still remains as a highly debated topic, the truth is that both options have their pros and cons.
You can choose the best option for your business depending on many factors, such as the purpose of the website, the intended target audience, and whether SEO is a factor.
The three reasons why responsive web design is considered to be the best option for your mobile SEO strategy once you consider SEO as a factor are given below.

1. Recommended By Google

Google states that responsive web design is its recommended mobile configuration, and their one URL and the same HTML, makes it easier and more efficient for Google to crawl, index, and organize content.
Google prefers responsive web design since it lives on one website and one URL and makes it much easier for users to share, interact with, and link to than content that lives on a separate mobile site. It can be further explained by taking an example of a mobile user who shares content from a mobile site with a friend on Facebook and who then accesses that content using a desktop, which in turn results in that user viewing a stripped down mobile site on their desktop, creating a less optimal user-experience.

2. One Website, Many Devices

It is important to note that a responsive website can provide a great user-experience across many devices and screen sizes when compared to a separate mobile site that is designed for a specific device and screen size.
Consider an example where someone searches for a product on their smartphone later on get transitioned to desktop version without changing the site. If the site is responsive, it result in a positive user-experience when transitioning from mobile to desktop because they will view the same site on their desktop as they did on their smartphone. But once if the site is a dedicated mobile site, this person have to locate the desktop version of the site, and find the product all over again.

3. Easier to Manage

It is required to have separate SEO campaigns for separate desktop and mobile site. It has been observed that managing one site and one SEO campaign is far easier than managing two sites and two SEO campaigns. This is considered to be a key advantage of responsive website over a separate mobile site.

The benefits to having a mobile-specific SEO strategy include optimizing for keywords that are more likely to be searched when someone is on their smartphone.

However since mobile first indexing is an important shift in indexing, by careful monitoring and experimenting, it is possible to ramp this change to achieve a great user experience. Here are few recommendations to those who are planning to transition their site towards a mobile-focused index.

  • If the primary content and markup is equivalent across mobile and desktop, for responsive site or a dynamic serving site, then a change is not required.

  • At the same time, if the primary content and markup is different across mobile and desktop, consider making some changes to your site.

    • Make sure to serve structured markup for both the desktop and mobile version. Sites can verify the equivalence of their structured markup across desktop and mobile by typing the URLs of both versions into the Structured Data Testing Tool and comparing the output. When adding structured data to a mobile site, avoid adding large amounts of markup that isn’t relevant to the specific information content of each document.

    • Make use of robots.txt testing tool to verify whether your mobile version is accessible to Googlebot.

    • Sites do not have to make changes to their canonical links; instead these can be used as guides to serve appropriate results to a user searching on desktop or mobile

  • If you are a site owner and verified your deskt
    op site in Search Console, make sure to add and verify your mobile version.

Altogether, responsive web design allows one website to provide a great user-experience across many devices and screen sizes, and also helps to manage your SEO strategy easier. Therefore responsive web design can be considered as a best option for your mobile SEO strategy.