Last year will be remembered as the year when mobile devices finally overtook desktop devices as the go-to hardware used to access the Internet. Everyone who wanted to look could have seen this coming from a mile away – just a year before, there were more Google searches performed from mobile advice than any other type of advice. The reign of mobile has started.
For a business-person who wants to establish their presence on the Internet, the mobile-first era starts with a simple question – is your website optimized for mobile devices? It should be, because more than a half of people won’t stick around if your websites load for more than three seconds. Even if the loading times are quicker, visitors will not waste their time on a website that’s built to be navigated using a mouse and keyboard, not thumbs. And as time goes by, mobile-friendliness is going to be increasingly important.
Why Is Mobile-First Indexing Important?
Google still hasn’t fully implemented mobile-first indexing, but it’s getting there. Right now, your website’s search ranking is still largely determined by how well it performs on desktops. But as the numbers continue to show that people are favoring their mobile devices when accessing the Internet, providing your visitors with a good mobile experience will become important for search rankings as well.
Everything that now counts towards your website’s ranking – relevant content, loading speeds, user experience, linking strategy – will still count when mobile-first indexing lands. It’s just that an increased importance will be given to how quickly the content loads on a mobile device, and how well it is designed to be viewed on a smaller screen, and how well it can be navigated on a small device. The bottom line is – mobile friendliness will count for a lot when mobile-first indexing is implemented.
The Three Approaches to Mobile-Friendliness
If you’re looking to make your website more mobile friendly, there are three ways you can do it. You can create a separate version of your website with a different URL and design it specifically for viewing on mobile devices. You can implement dynamic serving, with only one website that serves different content depending on the type of advice the website is viewed on. Finally, you can implement responsive design, with only one URL, where your content is adjusted to the size of the device used to access it.
Each of these strategies has their pros and cons. Having two separate versions of a website means that even when one version goes down for some reason, the other version will still be up and running. However, it can be an expensive endeavor, and it can get confusing for the users. Dynamic serving ensures a unique experience for each device, but it’s very expensive to implement. Responsive design can be implemented quickly and at a lower cost, but it can take some time to fine-tune it.
While the choice of approach you will take is completely up to you, if you’re getting the majority of traffic to your website from Google (and chances are you are), you might want to know which of the three options Google recommends. It’s responsive design.
Addressing the Speed Issue
Mobile-friendliness also means that your website can be loaded fairly quickly on a mobile device. Desktop computers, which usually have more processing power and memory, as well as a faster Internet connection, can tackle websites with complicated scripting and large elements. For mobile devices, however, everything needs to be adjusted because they aren’t as powerful as desktop devices and a lot of the time they depend on significantly slower Internet connections.
There are plenty of tools that can simulate how quickly a website loads. If they’re showing excessively long loading times, there are a couple of things you, or your webmaster, can do. These include enabling compression, optimizing images so that they’re smaller, minifying CSS, and utilizing browser caching. If you built your website using WordPress, for example, implementing these changes can be relatively easy because of a number of plugins you can use to do it.
As a business owner, you understand how important it is to get with the times. In terms of your website and its SEO, it means that you should start adopting mobile-friendly practices as soon as possible. Otherwise, you might find your website’s ranking drop suddenly when mobile-first indexing starts being used.