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How Google’s mobile first index will affect your business

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Google is changing the way it ranks your website – in favour of mobile phones, rather than desktop. Andrew Clack of TechnicWeb explains Google's 'mobile first'.

Andrew Clack

Andrew Clack, TechnicWeb

In the digital world, nothing is more important than great user experience. And no one focuses more on this than Google. In 2011, Google’s Panda algorithm update changed the way websites were ranked, putting content quality and trustworthiness as the main factors to impact search result rankings. Causing businesses everywhere to rethink their digital marketing strategies to improve their SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) results. Now, Google is set to launch its next big algorithm update; the ‘mobile first’ index.

Google’s ‘mobile first’ index explained

In 2016 Google announced a major change to the way its search index will rank sites; putting mobiles first. This means Google’s algorithms will primarily use the mobile version of a website’s content to rank pages in search engine results. This change is a result of the increase in the number of people accessing the web via mobile devices. Over 48 per cent of people, just within the property industry, perform their searches on a mobile phone*.

Previously, the search engine would look at the desktop version of a website’s page content, to determine how it should be ranked and its relevance to the user. Although in most cases of responsive websites, where the site content is the same, this is fine, some non-responsive mobile websites have far less content than the desktop site, causing mobile users to land on webpages which might not have the information they were searching for. To overcome this issue, Google’s new ‘mobile first’ index will now begin to rank sites that are responsive above those that aren’t optimised for mobile devices.

How this will affect you

This change will be implemented in early 2018 and those with non-responsive websites could see a significant decrease in visitors to their site, as mobile-friendly content will be boosted to the top of Google’s listings. Driving more traffic to those sites and anyway from desktop sites. Although desktop sites will still be ranked, they will appear lower down in the listings than they would have previously.

This will also affect those with separate mobile and desktop sites, as the mobile version will now be treated as the primary version. If your mobile and desktop sites are significantly different, such as the mobile site having less content, this could have an impact on your visitor’s impression of the brand and site.

If your website is already mobile responsive, then you shouldn’t be affected.

What you can do

How does your current website look on your mobile? If it is not responsive it won’t provide a good user experience. Responsive websites figure out which device the website is being viewed on and adjust themselves accordingly, meaning they look equally as good on a mobile, as they do on a desktop.

The experts at TechnicWeb, the property industry’s leading provider of estate agency websites, recommend having one mobile responsive site, to ensure that content on your website remains consistent, regardless of the device being used to view it.

All TechnicWeb sites are designed and built to be responsive across desktop and mobile devices as most users start their property search on a mobile device.”  Julie, Graphic Designer, TechnicWeb.

With mobile becoming ever more prominent in the way we consume digital content, if your website isn’t mobile-friendly already, then making it responsive should be your top priority before Google implements the ‘mobile first’ index.

Source: Percentage of mobile searches on a mobile device 2017 https://www.smartinsights.com/search-engine-marketing/search-engine-statistics/attachment/percentage-of-mobile-searches-on-a-mobile-device-2017/

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