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Mobile-First Indexing vs Mobile Usability

April 11, 2019 // By: Victor Filoromo

It was just about a year ago when Google launched mobile-first indexing into our digital world. In past years, perhaps even back to the first time you heard of a search engine, Google would use the desktop version of a page’s content to index and rank it.

These days, many Google users are using the search engine on a mobile device, so the index is using the mobile version of a page first, instead of the desktop version.

Mobile-first indexing and mobile usability are one and the same in a sense, so it’s important to keep some things in mind as search engines strive to keep up with the latest trends. Let’s take a closer look at how to keep your listing on page one with this handy guide.

What’s Mobile-First Indexing?

In the past, Google would primarily crawl the desktop version of a website. With the switch to prioritize the mobile version in a consolidated index, it’s critical to follow best practices for mobile-first indexing.

That means you need to pay attention to both versions, desktop and mobile, and the design of each. The current desktop version of your site may have well-thought-out information and be fully developed, but the mobile version may have just a few buttons and only some of the information found on the desktop site.

With this new index, that means the mobile site is being crawled first, and all the dedication and time put into creating the desktop site could go to waste. Paying attention to both versions allows users to see that rich content they crave.

Responsive Design: A Key to Success

Responsive design is the best choice for Google crawlability and overall user experience. Responsive design is what makes it possible for one design to show up the same way on any kind of device and any browser.

If you’ve ever had to zoom in on a page on your phone just to read a single line of text, this is the exact opposite of responsive design. You don’t want to make Google work harder to crawl your site and understand the language on the site, leaving key pages to go unrecognized.

It’s important to consider how people search on a phone vs. how they may search on a desktop. The person on the phone is more likely to click through on the first result on a phone, because the device viewport is so much smaller. When you’re seeing limited results, it increases the importance of being at or near the top of page one.

While page speed isn’t an official factor in the mobile-first index, it’s an important ranking factor overall, and something that’s vital for keeping mobile users on your site. Most consumers who own a smartphone are looking for information quickly.

"Make sure you optimize your site. People who are using your site via mobile are usually looking for a quick answer,” says Kaitlin Southron, SEO expert from Stream Companies. “If they don't get it right away, they may bounce off your site.”

If you have a competitor with a high page speed and responsive design, there’s a better chance of them outranking you.

Tips for Mobile Usability

When it comes to mobile usability, the easiest thing to do is think about some of the websites or pages you encounter when using your phone. What do you like to see? What don’t you like? Page speed is always king. Making sure things are easy to navigate comes closely behind. You don’t want links to be too close together, with buttons on top of buttons, bleeding into text… it can get messy.

Clean, responsive mobile sites keep important buttons near the top of the page. People don’t like scrolling, particularly on a phone. The important info should be front and center.

Decluttering the design can lead to fast-response pages. Nothing flashy is needed, and minimal design rules. How do you avoid the zooming in and scrolling? Responsive design. It can lead to informed, satisfied clients.

Mobile Comes First, Always

When it comes to your website, enhancing, optimizing, and improving the user-experience is a must. Get in touch with the SEO mavens at Stream Companies, to ensure your advertising is properly optimized and most importantly, mobile-friendly.

Topics: responsive design, Mobile-First Index, mobile usability