When Google performs their routine analysis on the public internet, they determine if there is a mobile-friendly version of an existing site, and if so, how comparable in functionality and content it is to the desktop version.

Google enables mobile-first indexing

If you own or administer a website, you may have received a curious-sounding email from Google in recent weeks, announcing that Mobile-first indexing has been enabled. What does this mean, and what do you need to do if you have (or even haven’t) gotten this notification in your inbox? We’ll explain mobile-first indexing here.

It’s no secret that Google has been prioritising the needs of users on mobile devices for quite some time. They have repeatedly told web developers that not only is it important that their websites be designed with mobile usage in mind, but that how a site looks in a responsive format will help determine their page rankings when people make searches on their portable devices.

This is because Google knows that mobile usage is on the rise. Mobile phones are now the standard device people use to interact with the internet, so it makes perfect sense that the majority of Google searches are performed on these platforms, and consequently the websites they visit need to be mobile-friendly. For many people now, the mobile web is the web.

When Google performs their routine analysis on the public internet, they determine if there is a mobile-friendly version of an existing site, and if so, how comparable in functionality and content it is to the desktop version. If they match, Google will add the site to its list of mobile-first search result candidates. The search giant has made it clear that this does not necessarily mean your search rankings will change if you have a site built with responsive design in mind, just that it will prioritise the mobile version of your site when you appear in search results.

Those of us who love to track analytics will also notice that after this change, there will be traffic reported from Googlebot Smartphone. This is normal and part of the new regime.

Confused about how to make your mobile site just as useful and informative as the desktop version? Here’s some handy hints on how to improve mobile performance.

Test if your site is mobile friendly

Google, helpfully, have their own tool for people to evaluate how mobile-friendly their current site is. Their mobile-friendly testing page will look at it through a mobile device’s eyes and report on the results, offering advice on what steps to take next, if any.

Optimise for speed

Just like waiting for a ride-sharing service or ordering a meal, you never want to be left waiting for long while on a mobile device. The same principle applies for websites. Google highly prizes sites that deliver their content quickly to the end user and penalises those that are slow in this situation. This makes sense when you think that people on the move are usually in a hurry to be somewhere or get information, while those who are in an office or home environment are more able to wait a few extra seconds.

Make sure ads don’t get in the way

On desktop-orientated sites, ad delivery systems are sometimes engineered to display ads before the rest of the site has loaded. On mobile, this kind of methodology doesn’t work and Google will penalise it in search result listings.

At iFactory, we’ve been creating websites and web applications with both desktop and mobile devices in mind since 2004. Talk to iFactory today about how we can get your business online.

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