Mobile-First Indexing is NOT #FakeNews

We here at Vizion have been stressing to our clients for many months now about the importance of implementing our mobile site optimization recommendations. In fact, we’ve been stressing it SO much, that we fear we may be sounding like broken records. But be warned, Mobile-First is NOT #fakenews. So, instead of just another post about why getting your ducks in a row for Mobile-First is so important, we thought we’d synthesize some articles that other thought leaders have published on the topic (including Google itself) that we think are important, and if you don’t feel like reading each article, we’re going to share our highlights – lucky you! We hope you enjoy the straight and to the point (and a bit sassy) commentary from Vizion experts Lisa Ainza and Shanti Shunn below. Read a few of the articles if you have time, and then get to optimizing!

Mobile First

  1. Using Page Speed in Mobile Search Ranking – Google Webmaster Central Blog

Lisa Ainza: “Thank you Google for confirming the obvious. Since Google has been beating webmasters and SEOs alike over the head about page speed since 2010, one more update on the subject doesn’t make me stand at attention. These days when I view an SEO update confirming a signal most SEOs already know to matter, I tend to zero in on the language used to read between the lines for the real story (rather than the statement) to help get an idea of how an update may play out in the wild. 

As usual, Google includes its standard diatribe regarding breadth of impact in an attempt to quell panic by indicating that negative effect imparted by the update will only be limited to a tiny portion of websites and only the worst offenders. This of course translates to: there is likely to be a tidal wave of impact and it’s probably going to affect websites far and wide, and that’s too bad for you.

They counter this with a quick, arbitrary reminder that other things do still matter, to prevent SEOs from going Mad Cow and ending up nervously stripping away everything, but the kitchen sink to make their pages fast.

After reading this update and more than 10 years of dealing with Google, all I feel like doing is going Bette Davis and saying, ‘Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy…next several months, but you should have already gone to battle with Creative over those huge image files and custom fonts, and roped in the Dev team on all that JavaScript, and beaten back business stakeholders over those 200 third-party requests. You’ve had 8 years to get your sh*t together, and you knew this was coming.’”

  1. Google is Making Moves Towards Mobile First Search – Business Insider

Shanti Shunn: “While this article seems to gloss over some things pertinent to the mobile-first pending change like when they say, ‘Websites that adequately employ responsive web design or dynamic serving — practices that modify how a website looks and acts based on the device it’s being loaded on — won’t have to change their websites for mobile-first indexing,’ they do not account for the fact that many sites currently truncate the amount of data displayed from the desktop version, often including content that is moved into an off-canvas state.  This will have an impact on the mobile version of your site ranking and supporting what you see on the desktop-based measuring system, still mostly active (but on its way out) today.

This stated, the post does share the most salient fact of why Google is doing this, specifically the facts that when looking at time spent on the digital landscape, ‘65% in the US is spent on mobile devices’ and that a 2016 report showed that search engines’ queries share was ‘60%.’  These are the core driving forces for this shift by Google, so make sure you are focused on getting ready now.”

  1. Google is Shifting to a Mobile First Index. Is Your Business Ready? – SEM Rush Blog

Shanti Shunn: “This article states some great salient points when it comes to the pending (and already being tested) Mobile-First shift by Google.  The main takeaways from my perspective are these:

  • “Aim for a Loading Speed of Less than 2 Seconds”
    1. Remember, this is the potential universal target for any and all mobile sites, regardless of technology or content depth, but also remember that content that is good and is truly useful from the user-intent perspective can balance this out.
  • “Make Sure Your Content is the Same from Desktop to Mobile”
    1. This has been my mantra to clients.  So often the mobile version of a website has shifted content off-canvas and that means that the google-bot for mobile will be looking for what is actually displayed as part of the mobile-first ranking change.  So, make sure what is displayed on the desktop site is also displayed on the mobile site.
  • And finally, “Consult Google’s Resources”
    1. As I like to call-out, Google is not just a search engine, but also a content company.  They post resourceful content in many arenas, from https://webmasters.googleblog.com/, https://adwords.googleblog.com and https://developers.google.com/ just to highlight a few.
  1. Introducing the Mobile Speed Scorecard and Impact Calculator – Google Inside Adwords Blog

Shanti Shunn: “This article/post is definitely worth looking at and reading in its entirety.  What it contains is some comparative tools that Google has presented to be able to measure your website and get an idea of how page-speed may be impacting your business.  The other major takeaway from testing with these tools and using these calculators, is that is provides you direct insight into why Google is making this change and how they see you stacking up, especially when it comes to the implementation of a universal mobile performance goal.  Go see where you stack up with this tool especially:  https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/feature/mobile/

  1. Getting Your Site Ready for Mobile-First Indexing – Google Webmaster Central Blog

Lisa Ainza: “While SEOs have been aware for some time of the on-going Google initiative of the Mobile-First Index, this update was unusually helpful in providing guidance in the more complicated aspects of mobile communication with the search engine. My guess is these are the areas where Google has seen issues most frequently, and ensuring these areas are buttoned-up will most likely result in much less blood and tears when Mobile-First descends on your own sites. I’m sure Google will appreciate it too to help lessen the chance that this (unnecessary) push towards a mobile universe blows up in their face.

If you’re feeling a bit like the deer in the headlights and not sure where to start, head over to Google Search Console and check for mobile-related errors in the areas Google is calling out. Maximize your Schema opportunities and then ensure all your mobile pages have proper metadata. If you have a site that has multiple region or language page versions you’ll want to address Google’s tidbit on hreflang considerations as soon as possible, as this is a more complicated attribute. Happy mobiling!”

If you want to know whether your site is truly ready for Google’s Mobile-First Indexing, we’re happy to help! Check out our SEO Services, and contact us today!

You may also be interested in:

Google Is Your Mobile-First Guidance Counselor

What does Mobile Mean to Your Bottom Line?

Mobile-First Google Shift

The Importance of Mobile Page Speed for Users and Mobile SEO