This week, I’ve been getting regular emails from Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) to let me know that my own sites and those of my clients that I’ve added to the console have been switched to “Mobile-first” indexing.
What this basically means is that the results in Google searches will show content primarily from the mobile version of your website….IF you have one! If you do or your website is fully responsive and adaptable to mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets then you need do nothing for the most part.
If however your website is currently setup any the following ways, you may need to act to avoid the loss of ranking and possible drop in the search results:
- No Mobile version,
- No Responsive version,
- A Mobile version that doesn’t have the same quality, comprehensive content and tags as your main site,
- An old Mobile version on a separate domain, ie – m.mysite.com.
The first thing you need to do is test to see if your site has a mobile friendly version or if the main site is mobile friendly. You can do that with Google’s own tool here:
If all is well with that then you need not worry. If your site is shown to be not mobile friendly though you may need to make it so to avoid issues. Here are the options:
- Rebuild the site with a fully responsive design (best, future proofed option),
- Add a Mobile friendly plugin (If your site is WordPress or CMS based).
Here’s some further reading on the subject of Mobile-first Indexing:
Google – webmasters.googleblog.com/2018/03/rolling-out-mobile-first-indexing.html
Yoast – yoast.com/5-things-about-mobile-first-indexing/
Please get in touch if you need further advice.
So yesterday April 21st was “MobileGeddon” as it’s become known. The day Google decided to change it’s algorithm to rank higher those websites which have Mobile Friendly or Responsive versions available to viewers on mobile devices including phones and tablets etc..
I’ve been doing some comparative searches (make sure to sign out of your Google account as results might be skewed if you don’t) on both desktop and mobile to see if I can see any difference in results but havn’t spotted anything obvious yet. I guess it might take a while to kick in?
Perhaps the best way to check if your site has been affected though is to login to your Google Analytics or similar account and check the stats for mobile hits. Wait a few days or weeks before doing this to give the stats a chance to build up. Here’s how to do that:
- Login to your Google Analytics account and click Audience – Mobile – Overview to see some quick stats.
- The overview data above is kinda hard to read so lets make it a bit clearer by selecting a date range. I suggest picking custom dates top right from about the 13th April to the 27th April to give one week of data before the change on the 21st and one week after.
- Next, tick the boxes beside Desktop, Mobile & Tablet bottom left and choose “Plot Rows” just above. This will give a nice tidy comparison chart for the period in question. See below:
What you’re hoping NOT to see is a big obvious fall in mobile and tablet hits from the 21st onward. If you do and your site fails the Google mobile friendly test then you might need to consider making it mobile friendly?
“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”
Read Google’s full announcement here – Googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.ie/2015/02/finding-more-mobile-friendly-search.html
I’ve noticed this in news posts around the web in recent times and have had clients asking me about it. I guess it’s the way things are going with more and more people accessing online content via mobile devices and Google are probably right to reward sites with higher rankings if they satisfy this trend. Nevertheless I can’t help feeling a little annoyed for 2 reasons:
1. Google I’m sure know that to make a website mobile friendly or include a separate mobile domain completely is possibly a big job and big outlay for companies. Doing a little seo tweaking is one thing but expecting companies to either completely re-build their sites to make them mobile friendly or building an entirely new website is asking a bit much in my opinion.
2. Web design clients are quite likely (some of mine have already) to expect their website to be mobile friendly already even though it might have been built before smart phones were even invented and they might expect the site to be “fixed” for free as if it were broken in some way.
So potentially massive hassle all round because of this.
What to do?
I guess if you are conscientious about seo and Google rankings etc you may need to act on this rather soonish. If you happen to have a WordPress site or possibly any modern CMS powered site there may be plugins you can install that will show basic mobile versions of your site’s content. Failing that you’re probably looking at a full rebuild with a responsive design. Again, a little easier if you have a WordPress or CMS site but not so easy if you have a static, custom built one.
You can test your site to see if Google thinks it’s mobile friendly or not here – Google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/
Contact me for advice if you feel the need.