Tips to Prepare for Google’s Mobile First Index

Last week, we brought you a blog on the mobile first index that Google is planning to bring in within the next few months. Now that we’ve gotten the basics covered, let’s take a look ahead into what you can do to prepare for this change.

Will your Site be Affected?

The first step to prepare is to understand whether your site will be one of the ones affected by the index. Not all of the mobile responsive sites out there will be affected by the change, only ones that have a separate mobile version. This means that if you have the same site across mobile and desktop, then you won’t need to optimise for this particular update.

However, if you do want to stay ahead of these search engine updates then you should be placing an emphasis on your mobile site. This is a clear sign that Google is more and more focused on mobile, so your responsive site should be the best it can be, regardless of whether it’s affected by this update or not.

If you are one of the site owners affected, then keep reading to find out what you should be doing.

Best Practice for the Mobile First Index

To get you ready for the mobile first index, the main thing that you want to do is to test and inspect your mobile site. This means that all of the meta and structured data for the desktop version should be implemented for the mobile version too. If you have a desktop site that ranks well with all of the relevant data, this could be wiped out overnight if you don’t have this same data in place on mobile.

Google provide a wide range of testing tools that you can use to check whether this data is present on mobile and desktop. Test both the mobile and desktop site, looking for discrepancies between the two. Ideally, these should be as close to one another as possible, if you make improvements to the mobile version then try to replicate these across the desktop version.

The robots.txt file on your mobile site should be open and accessible to Google’s bots too. This allows for the mobile site to be crawled and indexed by Google, which leads to a much higher ranking. This can also be tested with another handy Google tool, which will show you which changes you need to make for this crawling to be possible. It is possible to ask Google not to crawl your site with this file, if you don’t want to appear in the search results for any reason.

Finally, you also want to verify your mobile property in Search Console. All this means is that you’re telling Google that this mobile version also belongs to you and that they can address you if required. This is a really simple process, just open up Search Console and follow the steps to add a verified property. The verification can be done in a few different ways, the simplest is to add a small amount of code to your website for Google to check over.

Implementing Responsive Design

If you would prefer to take the opportunity to use this as a nudge to combine your mobile and desktop sites, then you can implement responsive design. This effectively gets rid of the need for two separate sites and brings them together under one roof. Then, if there are similar updates to Google, you may not be affected at all.

Responsive design shouldn’t be a cop out though, as you should still make sure your user is having the best possible experience on their mobile device. The better this user journey is, the higher your rankings will tend to be.

If you need help to optimise your site for this or any other update to Google, then just get in touch with us. We know how to boost your rankings and use these updates to your best advantage. While you may initially see them as a hassle, talk to us and we’ll have you identifying the opportunities that you can use to rank even better in the future.

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