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June 26, 2019 Websites | Tech advisory

Building a new website? Make sure it's mobile first!

 By Lorraine S. Green

A couple of years back, Google announced that indexing process would become mobile-first. The reason they gave at the time was the fact that their ranking systems were prioritising desktop content to the detriment of mobile pages, contrasting real patterns of user behaviour. This was true then and is even more relevant today.

And so, starting from the 1st of July 2019, mobile-first indexing will be enabled by default for all new websites (new to the web or previously unknown to Google Search).

Mobile-first indexing means that when Google's bots crawl and index website, they will preview everything as if they were using a mobile device – formatting, accessibility, and content will no longer be judged based on how well they perform on the desktop version of your site.

However, if you do not have a mobile-friendly website, it doesn't mean that you are totally excluded (it’s mobile-first, not mobile-only). It just means that the result of what is found through this crawling process ultimately affects your ranking in the search results, and that a website with a better mobile experience can end up ranking higher even when searches are carried out from a desktop.

I'm building a new website – how does this affect me?

If you are about to launch a new website, then make sure it's mobile-friendly! If it isn't, you may encounter issues once it’s time to start being indexed and ranked in Google search results. The easiest way to work around this before it becomes a problem is to test your website and build it in a mobile-first manner from the very beginning of the project. Google offers an extensive guide on what you should do to achieve this.

What about my current website?

First, you should establish if you even have a problem to begin with. If you’re not sure if your website is mobile-friendly, take the Mobile-Friendly Test. If your website scores well, then great! Keep in mind, however, that even websites with a responsive design might need some adjustments, especially as algorithms advance and polish their processes.

And if it's not, then no need to despair – that just means there’s work left to be done! The shift to mobile-first indexing for an existing website will not happen overnight, so there is time for you to plan and prepare for this change. Google will continue to monitor and evaluate websites and will notify you, as website owner, through Google Search Console once your website is seen as being ready. Google determines this readiness based on:

  • parity of content (including text, images, videos, links),
  • structured data,
  • and other types of meta-data (for example, titles and descriptions, robots meta tags).

The guide mentioned above also offers guidance to how to improve when you’re working with an existing website.

We know how.

If you need help, either with an upcoming project or adapting an existing website, we are here to help. Get in touch!