Recently, Google announced a change to its web crawling activities. As of September 2020, Google will make the switch to mobile-first indexing on all websites, as opposed to desktop crawling that the engine has long preferred.
While mobile-first indexing isn’t new – Google has been using a smartphone Googlebot to crawl sites for a few years now – the complete changeover could leave some website managers in the lurch if they haven’t already optimized their sites for mobile browsing.
If your website isn’t responsive (i.e. if it doesn’t render well on a variety of devices and window or screen sizes), its rankings will likely suffer come September 2020.
Why Online Businesses Need to Take Mobile-First Indexing Seriously
All website owners need to be aware of indexing updates, but online businesses are especially vulnerable to changes.
While paid advertising and direct marketing can get a business in front of potential customers, loss or gains of organic traffic can significantly impact business. When people are looking for a specific product or a solution to their problem, they’ll often turn to Google for advice and recommendations. If your website is not optimized for search, it’s unlikely to have any visibility in results.
With more consumers than ever searching for products and services on their phones, businesses need to ensure that they have a site optimized for mobile search and viewing. Even if Google hadn’t announced its shift to mobile search engine optimization (SEO), it still makes sense to stay on top of consumer trends and browsing habits.
How Marketers and Website Managers Can Prepare for the September Google Update
To limit disruptions and maintain (or even improve) website rankings, there are a few steps website managers should take before Google’s update in September 2020.
Ensure your website is responsive: If you’ve been dragging your feet on updating your website, or if you’re unsure if a peer has already been working on it, now’s the time to check. Google has a simple-to-use tool to see if a web page is mobile-friendly.
Perform a content audit: Look at all the website copy, images, and videos available on your site and make sure that each piece is accessible and easy to view on both mobile and desktop. Review the length of title tags and meta descriptions, and check that structured data is accurate.
Check your URLs: It’s recommended to have the same URL for mobile and desktop sites. Having different URLs can cause confusion among website visitors and search engines, which can negatively impact rankings.
Prioritize page speed: Website visitors won’t wait around for more than a few seconds as your page slowly loads. Reduce the size of files and optimize images by compressing them without loss of much quality (yes, it’s possible). Other tips include minimizing redirects and minifying code by removing unnecessary characters.
Consider mobile design: Navigation on a mobile device differs greatly from how we move around on a desktop. Users are used to scrolling through social media platforms and expect the same ease of use on your website. Keep things simple with buttons/links that are large enough for human fingers to “click.”
Don’t forget local search: If you’re running an eCommerce site, this might not apply to you. If you have a physical office space or storefront, however, remember to optimize for local consumers, which also takes voice search into account. Include location and contact information in copy and meta data to ensure neighbors in the area can find you when they’re searching for products or services that you happen to offer.
Why Hiring an Outside Agency for Mobile SEO Is Worth It
As an inbound marketing agency, our SEO experts understand the direct correlation between optimizing your brand’s website and sales. With over 50% of website traffic coming from mobile (globally), making sure your brand is on the first page for customers to engage with is top priority. Hiring an SEO agency can free up the rest of your marketing team to double down on internal efforts.
When considering agencies, look at how long they’ve been in business, what companies they currently work with, and what industries they serve. Many agencies will have a focus, such as technology or healthcare, so it’s recommended to find options with experience in your market segment. Agency partners live and breathe SEO trends, and can be a game changer in growing leads and conversion rates.
Prepare Your Website for Mobile SEO Changes Today
There are many different factors to consider when optimizing for mobile search. What we’ve covered in this piece are just a few SEO tactics that you should be keeping in mind when deciding what to do about Google’s mobile-first indexing change in September 2020.
Not sure if your website will be optimized in time for this change? You may want to work with an inbound marketing agency like First Page Strategy. With our help, you’ll be better able to keep up with your competition and bring new visitors on mobile devices to your site. Get a free SEO/content analysis to show you how we do the work we do.
An inbound marketing agency can also help you stay updated on new trends, mobile or otherwise, so you don’t fall behind. Remember, a good SEO strategy needs to be revisited and revised often to be effective, and with First Page Strategy you’ll have access to a completely remote marketing team at a fraction of a price for an in-house team.