Google’s New Mobile Index Redefines What Mobile First Really Means

Written by SuperUser Account on 10/25/2016
Google’s New Mobile Index Redefines What Mobile First Really Means

Is your mobile website just a stripped-down version of your desktop site?
Then this is a must-read for you. 

For the last few years, marketers and web designers (us included) have emphasized how important it is to consider the mobile design of a website. Data shows that with each passing year, more folks use their mobile devices to surf the web than any other platform.

But now, with its latest announcement, Google is stepping up the ante.

Earlier this month (October, 2016), Google announced that it will begin to create a separate mobile index within a few months, that will serve as the primary index that the search engine will use.

In other words, Google has decided to start indexing search results for mobile separately from desktop in order to offer mobile users better and fresher content.

The standard desktop index will remain active, but it won’t be as updated nearly as frequently as its mobile counterpart.

So, what’s this mean for your website?

If you have a mobile-friendly website, then you might think that you won’t be impacted by this inevitable update.

But think again.

The truth is, many mobile websites are significantly smaller in size than their desktop versions. In an effort to be “mobile friendly,” sites often remove content and structured data from mobile pages to enhance the smartphone experience.

The problem is, that’s not really a mobile-first approach to web design.

The misunderstanding of the mobile-first web design

For the last few years, businesses have been finding quick and easy ways to make their sites mobile friendly. More often than not this includes serving up an extremely stripped down version of their entire site.

But a mobile-first web design approach does exactly what its title promises: it builds the website with the mobile user in mind first, rather than building the desktop version and then subtracting elements to accommodate smaller screens.

There are countless reasons why businesses should design their website like this; but with this recent Google announcement, there should be no doubt about it:

Mobile is where Google intends to take the web. 

What can you do now to prepare for this update?

The first step you should do is audit your mobile and desktop sites. Ask yourself this: What are the main differences between your mobile and desktop sites?

If your answer is, “absolutely nothing,” then you should be perfectly fine. If, however, the content on your mobile pages is not the same as the content on your desktop pages, then you have some work to do.

There are two things to remember here:

  1. More folks are using mobile devices to go online
  2. Google’s mobile search index will be far more accurate and up-to-date than its desktop version

That’s why it’s absolutely imperative that you make changes to your site to ensure that the mobile-version of your pages isn’t cheating your prospective customers out of the full experience.

A responsive website is your best approach to keeping up with the mobile-first push, but even that’s not the perfect solution. Many responsive websites remove key elements from a webpage to create a simplified look. But if these key elements are vital toward delivering a complete user experience, then you have to look at ways to creatively include these elements into your site, regardless of screen size.

Google hasn’t announced when, exactly, this mobile-only index will go live. However, now is the time to start determining whether your website is in need of a mobile makeover. This mobile makeover doesn't necessarily mean that you need an entirely new website. You have a couple of options and we can help with both.

  1. Your current website design can be made mobile responsive. If we at 5 Stones built your current website, great! We can make it mobile responsive. If we did not build your current website, that's great too. We can take your current website and rebuild it in the DNN content management system and make it mobile responsive. This will give you the latest and greatest technology in a CMS that you will love, and Google will love it too!
  2. You can use this as an excuse to have a brand new website designed. If your current website is not mobile responsive, the design is probably dated anyway. With the changes coming, there is no better time to have a new website built than now.

Give us a call at (985) 662-8419 or contact us to talk through your project. We'd love to help!

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