More people today are searching for products and services on their mobile devices than on desktop computers. As a result, Google is rolling out its mobile-first index sometime in 2018. This may significantly impact your website, depending on how you prepare in advance.
What is an index?
Google does not search the entire internet when you type in a query. Rather, its web crawlers constantly crawl the internet to compile a list of websites based on keywords. They store that information in a database called an index.
Google constructs today’s indexes for desktop browsing. However, since more than half of all searches now occur on mobile devices, Google will roll out a new mobile-first algorithm early this year that indexes mobile-friendly websites ahead of desktop websites to optimize for a mobile browsing experience.
What this means for you
Google’s webmaster trends analyst Gary Illyes is adamant that the new algorithm will not hurt websites without a mobile-friendly design. But, it will look for mobile content first.
Illyes said at the SMX Advanced conference in Seattle in June 2017, “If you have a responsive site, then you’re pretty much good to go. Why? Because the content on your desktop site will be pretty much the same on your responsive site. The structured data on your desktop site will be the same. There is going to be slight differences in how you present the data, but we’re trying to be prepared.
So, if you rely on search engines for leads, you need to make sure your website is mobile-friendly before Google rolls out their new index.
How to make sure your website is mobile responsive
You have two options for creating a mobile-friendly website:
1. You could create a clone of your current website and store it as a sub-domain under your main domain. Then you would optimize the clone to look good on small screens.
2. Optimize your current website to be responsive, meaning content displays based the screen size of your visitors. This option means your site displays well on both desktops and mobile devices. This option is preferred.
Remember, if you do a separate mobile site, you’re creating extra work because you have two websites to maintain. You will also have duplicate content, and you will diffuse the links between two sites. For example, if a link points to your desktop site, it will not help your mobile version and vice versa. Finally, Google may only index your mobile site, which will look odd when displayed on a desktop.