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Google delays Mobile First Index roll-out

Since July 2019, mobile-first indexing has been enabled by default for all new sites. With smartphone browsing being so common – it was no surprise when Google announced they would be switching all sites (old and new) to mobile-first indexing starting in September 2020.

Google have now said that this will be delayed until 2021 to allow users to address some common issues. As a digital agency, we’d say if you haven’t already made your site mobile-friendly – then now is the time! This is simply because most users visiting your site will be on a mobile device or smartphone.

What is Mobile-first Indexing?

This just means Google will predominantly use a mobile version of the site’s content for indexing and ranking. This means it’s essential that you’re providing a mobile-friendly experience for users visiting your site.

Google Search will still show the URL that is the most appropriate to users (which might be desktop or mobile URL) in search results. But with mobile-first indexing, if you don’t have a mobile version, you will be ranked lower.  
As a digital marketing agency, we’d say that anybody who is hoping to boost their online marketing results and rank higher on Google’s search will need a great mobile user experience.

When will mobile-first indexing happen?

Most sites today are already set to mobile, but there are still many that aren’t. Google discovered some issues that need to be resolved before fully switching all sites – which explains the delay.

How can you provide a better user experience?

To make sure that your site visitors have the best experience, we suggest following these best practices given by Google:

  • Mobile Robots Meta Tags – If you use a different meta robots tag on the mobile site, Google may be unable to crawl and index your page. Therefore, you should use the same meta robots tags on the mobile and desktop site.
  • Mobile Lazy-loading – Google advises to avoid lazy-loading primary content based on user interactions such as swiping, typing or clicking. This is because Googlebot will not trigger these user interactions.
  • Blocked Mobile Assets – It’s important to check which mobile assets are being blocked because blocking something like an image, video or font could cause a ranking drop.
  • Main content matching on mobile and desktop – Your primary content should be the same on both mobile and desktop – if it changes dramatically then this could cause a lower rank. Google describes primary content as the content you want to rank with, or the reason people choose to visit your site.
  • Use the same headings – You should be using the same clear headings on the mobile site as you do on the desktop site.

Are your mobile images and videos user-friendly?

Google has outlined the main issues that might be a cause for concern when it comes to mobile images and videos. We’ve outlined some of these below:

Have the same image URLS for mobile and desktop

We mentioned that your primary content should be consistent from mobile to desktop – well, this also applies to your images and videos. If your site is using different images for mobile than it is for desktop – then it’s likely Google will give you a lower position on SERP due to disruptions in the ranking process.

Video and Image placement

Your digital marketing results could be improved by simply having your images and videos in the right position on your site. Google recommends that we are reviewing our web pages for user experience problems related to visuals, to avoid a ranking loss.

Think of it this way – if you are visiting a site to find a video, you won’t want to scroll too far down a page to find it. Also, Google might not deem a video as useful if it’s not getting enough views on your page – which could result in the video or page not being shown in search.

You can find out more about Google’s best practices here in their full guide.

What next?

Optimising your site for mobile has become increasingly important. Hopefully, checking over the above issues will help get you started. Google also provide a great mobile-friendly test which we recommend checking out here.

Do you have questions about your SEO performance or anything else digital marketing related? Don’t hesitate to contact our London based team here.

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