The latest mobile-first indexing updates that call for a change in your 2018 SEO game

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( — April 19, 2018) — Ever since the announcement of Google’s intention to index mobile first sites in 2016, there has been a lot of movement in the world of website design and SEO. Google is the leading search engine that is simply reinforcing a rising trend in consumer behavior. In the last couple of years, over 57% of the regular web traffic comes from mobile devices including smartphones, iPhones, tablets, and iPads. To reflect this shift in consumer behavior, Google is finally about to enforce this index across the globe.

The last couple of months have seen a lot of activity around mobile first indexing of websites. Irrespective of the pre-existing SEO strategies, the website owners, PR Firm managers and online marketers have to work on mobile first designs with new vigor. Since this is going to be one of the leading ranking factors for Google in the upcoming months. 

How will you know if Google has indexed your website as mobile-first?

When your website becomes mobile first, Google will send a notification through your Google Search Console. However, this will not explain the changes in crawl budget and activity for all existing websites after the switch. The only way a webmaster can do this is by checking the log file data. This will help the SEO experts and webmasters check how Google bots are accessing the website, where they are going and what crawl budget they are utilizing. We can say for sure that Google will test every website’s mobile accessibility before awarding it the mobile-first status.

Before Google can get around to assessing your website for mobile-readiness, you should run your mobile-first website analysis. You need to understand the journey of the average mobile user across your site, their navigation preferences and accessibility demands to rank well with Google. This is probably the only window of opportunity for webmasters to audit their sites and analyze their mobile compatibilities before launches a massive scale mobile-first indexing.

Desktop sites will be losing out

Your primary aim should be to provide tailored content for mobile. Most mobile searches are voice searches. They vary a lot from the conventional Google searches since most mobile users form their queries as questions. Over 70% of the mobile searches occur through voice assistants. As a result, 79% of the keywords perform differently across mobile and desktop websites. Through mobile searches users usually look for directions, prices of commodities, best-recommended products or music. Websites that craft their content to answer these questions are usually more visible during such mobile searches. In fact, websites with dedicated Q&A sections and FAQs often perform better than their competitors during mobile searches. Therefore, structuring your website for mobile-first indexing is also about structuring the content correctly.

Google is not yet out to penalize the websites that do not optimize for mobile first indexing. However, the marketers and website owners, who do not take enough time to structure their website content for the mobile-first generation, might understandably, lose out. This means Google does not have to penalize websites, but the competition will automatically cause the unoptimized sites to lose organic traffic and visibility. 

Pay attention to technical SEO

This brings forth the necessity of a different kind of search engine optimization. SEO is about structuring, pruning and dressing your website up for the latest search engine algorithm updates. Therefore, the introduction of mobile-first indexing is ushering in a new era in SEO. This includes verification of metadata exclusively for mobile browsers, optimization of mobile user experience, verification of the mobile site structure and revisiting the structured data. Most importantly, your mobile site hreflang tags should all point towards the direction of the mobile version of your URL.

Always think about speeding things up           

Mobile users are almost always in a rush and checking information on the go. Therefore, a mobile site without the necessary speed is as good as a desktop site on mobile. After you think your website is ready to offer the ultimate mobile experience to the users, you need to evaluate the speed using standard mobile site speed tests. Find out the different areas you can improve to accelerate your website. Pinpoint the pages that are unnecessarily heavy and make your website as fast as possible. This is one of the prime factors that contribute to Google ranking, and it is going to be one of the most critical factors that contribute to organic traffic flow after mobile-first indexing. 

Now, once you have done your part, it is time to wait for a word from Google. Keep an eye on your rankings. Monitor your mobile and desktop traffic flow rate. One of the biggest indicators of mobile-site optimization is the significant increase in mobile traffic organically. Do not forget to run mobile website SEO audits from time to time to stay in touch with the optimization technicalities of your website.