What Does Mobile-First Indexing Mean For SEO Practitioners?{Guide}

If you work in SEO, you probably have dreams about reaching the top of the first page on Google when someone searches for your keywords. However, ambition alone isn’t going to be enough to get you there. You’ll also have to maintain an awareness of how Google ranks different sites so that you can make sure your content is earning results and not being penalized for silly mistakes. One expression you’ll need to understand (if you haven’t heard of it already) is mobile-first indexing.

Not sure what mobile-first indexing is? Don’t worry. Below, you’ll learn all you need to know about this new approach to ranking websites — and how you can make the most of it to benefit your brand.

Mobile-first Indexing Explained: a New Way to Rank Websites

Mobile-first indexing is the process Google now uses to determine the position your website will occupy when potential visitors search for related keywords. Google used to base this process on the specifications of your desktop site — but that’s no longer the case.

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More people now access websites from their mobile phones than they do from laptops or desktops, so it’s no longer practical for search engines to assign value to websites based on their compatibility with those devices. Prior to mobile-first indexing, Google’s process for assigning rankings to a given site looked something like this:

  1. Google crawled your desktop site
  2. search machine assigned rankings to your site based on the content your desktop site contained
  3. Google crawled your mobile site (if you had one) and used the content it contained to give your rankings a boost

Under mobile-first indexing, the process is completely different. Now, what happens is more like this:

  1. Google crawls your mobile site
  2. search engine assigns rankings to your desktop and mobile sites based on the content your mobile site contains
  3. Google only crawls your desktop site at all if no mobile version of your site exists

As you can see from the above, it’s now of the utmost importance for SEO professionals to ensure that the content they produce is optimized for mobile viewing. Here’s how you can do that:

Creating Content for Mobile Viewing in a Few Easy Steps:

  • Economy of space is key: mobile technology is advancing rapidly, but one thing hasn’t changed in years and isn’t likely to — the fact is that mobile screens have way less room on them to view the details of a page. For that reason, you must keep your content concise. Make sure your titles, URLs and meta-descriptions are as short as possible (while still containing the necessary keywords and information).
  • Learn to make your writing punchier: use shorter, more direct phrases to convey the ideas you want to get across. People don’t like to scroll through walls of text, even on desktop computers. Any blogging you do for your mobile site should be compact and easy to read in a few minutes.
  • Optimize for local users: mobile users often access the internet while they’re travelling, and when they need a business they’ll likely search for one that’s near them. Make sure you use location tags in all your SEO content so that they’ll be sure to find you.

Your web designers will face other considerations when optimizing a site for mobile, but in terms of the SEO content you produce the necessary changes will be simple ones: using location tags, trimming down your content and being mindful of screen space will all go a long way towards making your mobile site more successful.

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Use the tips listed above, and remember: from now on, create with mobile in mind.

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