To this point, Google has always maintained a single search index for both mobile and desktop sites. Meaning regardless of what type of device you searched from, you essentially saw the same results–with the exception of the recent bump for sites with the “mobile-friendly” label in mobile search. However, that’s all about to change.
In the coming months Google will be rolling out an entirely separate Google index for mobile devices. This has left many wondering how to prepare for the Google mobile index. The aftermath of this new index could be drastically positive or negative for your site’s rankings, depending on how well your site is optimized for mobile. The following are the items you need to address to prepare your site for the transition:
- To prepare for the Google Mobile Index, you must first and foremost have a mobile friendly website. This can be an “m.” separate mobile site, but we recommend a fully responsive website. The advantage of a responsive website is that you won’t have to worry about link equity issues–meaning the loss of “link juice” that you have directed at your desktop site when the mobile index is implemented, because your mobile and desktop site will have the same URL.
- Another new technology to keep your eye on and begin testing on your site(s) is Accelerated Mobile Pages or AMP. You’ve probably already seen this technology when viewing news articles you find on Google on your phone. The AMP optimize page strips out nearly everything except text and some images. This makes for extremely fast load times which Google rewards. The AMP version of your site will only be shown when Google deems it appropriate to serve that version of the page, meaning you don’t have to sacrifice the styling of your site completely. It is currently only being used for major news articles, but that could change and may soon apply to blogs, static pages, etc.
- Another ranking factor for Google’s Mobile Index will likely be error free pages and mobile user experience. Use Google’s PageSpeed tester to test your site’s mobile speed and user experience scores. Work on increasing both if your scores are low.
- Lastly, high quality content is still an extremely important ranking factor for both desktop and mobile.
Needless to say, if you can be one of the sites that are already fully optimized with the tips above and ready for the transition, you may reap the substantial reward of shooting up the mobile rankings above your less prepared competition. With 4 out of every 10 people searching only on a smartphone on the average day and 27% using smartphones only, ranking highly in mobile search is only becoming more and more important.
Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (11/20/2016) Philip Wilson (Flickr)