Full-Spectrum Marketing Blog

Is your website ready for the Google mobile-first index shift?

Posted by Kristin Linde on Tue, Sep 19, 2017 @ 04:01 PM


If you’re asking yourself wait, what is the Google mobile-first index shift? … keep reading!

Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of our specialties at Visual Inspiration. Creating and maintaining a high level of quality in each of our client’s online presence is something we invest time in daily. We know that providing a great user-experience for their prospective customers searching online, will not only improve their ranking with Google, it will also strengthen their competitive edge.

As experts in the area of SEO, we have been closely tracking a MAJOR change coming from Google – one that will greatly impact many of our clients and hundreds of thousands of other businesses! In this blog, we will discuss in detail Google’s Mobile-first Indexing shift. This shift from desktop to mobile-focused indexing is HUGE! It’s something that all business owners need take seriously if they want to maintain a competitive edge and a great online presence. So, without further ado, let’s talk about what’s needed to ensure your webpage ready for this shift!

What is Google’s Mobile-First Indexing?

Mobile first-indexing means that Google will now be using the mobile version of your website as their primary search engine index. A search engine index is a collection of pages/documents that the search engine has discovered, primarily through crawling the web through links. Up until now, Google has crawled the web from a desktop browser point of view, moving forward Google is changing that to crawl the web from a mobile browser view. This is Google’s response to significant rise in mobile-search taking place today.

As I am sure you know, based on your own search habits, the majority of people searching on Google are doing so via their mobile device(s). In fact, in October of 2016, mobile and tablet internet search exceeded desktop search worldwide for the first time (1). This is why, it’s no surprise to us that Google has begun to experiment with indexing mobile sites vs. desktop sites.

Google’s primary concern is providing its users with the best experience possible. They want their search index to represent the majority their users and their goal is to eventually have a single index built solely for mobile, regardless if a searcher is using their smart phone or a desktop.

 mobile vs desktop chart.png


I imagine many of you are asking yourselves, what does this have to do with me? I have a mobile website, I am good to go… not exactly, read on to learn why.

But I have a mobile-friendly website already!

Many businesses have a mobile version of their website already, meaning that if you go to their website on a mobile browser, you will see a separate version of their site designed and optimized for your smartphone.  Unfortunately, this is no longer enough. Having two separate version of your website leads to many issue, the main one being inconsistent content between the two sites. This is typically not intentional as many people, especially those who make changes to their site frequently, forget to make the changes to their mobile site when updating their desktop site. Up until now, this did not really matter from a Google ranking perspective. Google would crawl the web from a desktop browser point of view thus seeing all your current changes and adjusting your rank accordingly. However, once Google make the switch to mobile-first indexing your site could lose ranking very quickly, if you are not prepared.

What does being prepared for this major shift in Google indexing mean? A mobile-responsive website is a MUST!!

What is a responsive website?

Google has stated that…

“if you have a responsive site or a dynamic serving site where the primary content and markup is equivalent across mobile and desktop, you shouldn’t have to change anything. If you have site configuration where the primary content and markup is different across mobile and desktop, you should consider making some changes to your site” (2).

Their policy is pretty straight forward and from it you can see their preference toward responsive design, but let’s take a few minutes to discuss the difference between a responsive website and the mobile site you likely have.

Responsive website design means that you have one website for Google to index instead of a desktop version and a mobile version. When we build websites, we code the site to be able to adapt to all screen sizes, no matter the device the user is viewing from. This means that your website, although it may look different on various devices, is actually the exact same site, just styled and formatted for the size screen it is rendering on. This also means that your site will only have one URL (gone are the days of http://m.domain.com) which makes it much easier for Google to crawl your site. When your site is easy to crawl and index, it makes Google very happy and we’ve found that a happy Google bot mean a better Google ranking!

Below is an example of what this would look like:

 mobile friendly screen shots.png


What Happens if I Don’t Make the Shift to A Responsive Website

Well, not making the shift to a will lead to a massive decrease in online visibility. Google has stated, multiple times, that if your content is not deemed to be “mobile-friendly” you will not rank as well as you have in the past. They have said that if your mobile site is not responsive and easy for Google to crawl, it’s almost not even worth having a website at all. That is a pretty powerful statement if you ask me.

Where to go from here?

Our recommendation is that you take action immediately! The mobile-first indexing change is scheduled take place in early 2018, so the time is now.

Schedule a Mobile Website Audit Today!

Google is constantly changing and updating how they do things, it’s just part of the search engine game. At Visual Inspiration, it is our mission to stay on top of these updates and changes and get the word out to our clients and readers as soon as possible. We honestly feel that the shift to mobile-first indexing is a major change that needs to be addressed immediately and that is why we are sharing this. If you want to stay competitive and give your customers the most optimal online experience possible, make sure your site is mobile-responsive today! 

Ensuring that your website is responsive will benefit you and your Google ranking greatly as this mobile-focused shift happens. It’s the best way to stay competitive and give your customers the most optimal online experience possible. Providing a great user experience today and in the future, no matter what technology shifts occur.

I AM READY TO TALK! Get Started Today

Also Check Out:

Why a Small, Boutique Marketing Agency is Right For You


Tags: Google + for business, business website, mobile website, website redesign, google mobile-first, responsive website