Mobile phones have come a long way since the days when we only use them to call and text people. Now, smartphones have become an all-in-one tool for checking your e-mail, listening to music, watching videos, and of course, browsing websites and social media. It is for this reason that Google has implemented an algorithm called “mobile first indexing” when determining the ranking of particular sites.
In a nutshell, mobile first indexing means that Google will give priority to the mobile version of a website when determining its rank or position in the search results. This is because the company found out that the majority of searches done on their site are made via mobile phones.
Previously, Google took the desktop version of websites as a priority in SERP ranking. This meant that no matter how bare and bland the mobile version of a site is, as long as its desktop site remains polished, the site will pretty much remain relevant.
However, with the advent of mobile first indexing, webmasters now have to make sure that their mobile website is taken care of. Actually, if website owners really want to place high in the rankings, then there really is no way around it— they have to get the mobile version of their sites as polished as possible.
This is because mobile versions of websites are now the priority for Google. The search engine first looks for the mobile version of the site and ranks it accordingly. The catch is that both mobile and desktop version are treated with the same ranking.
Mobile-friendly sites are vital for SMBs
If you are an owner of a small business that has a website, and have not yet paid attention to the mobile version of your site before, then this is a good time to start getting it fixed. Mobile first indexing means that mobile-friendly versions of sites are a requirement now. Little things like making your site appear presentable on a tablet, or adding features so that the mobile site adjusts its margins according to screen width will go a long way towards ranking up.
Getting a decent, mobile-friendly design may b a bit of a strain on the manpower and resources of a small business. However, since Google has made it definitely clear that they prioritize mobile over desktop, then the design will not be an investment in vain. It will be worth it, as better rankings equal more visitors, and that equals more clients and more business.
Also, it will help if the care you apply to desktop sites is applied to the mobile versions, as well. This means that you have to make sure the LSI keywords, metadata, tags, and other SEO elements are correctly set up on the mobile version, as well.
Of course, the term is mobile first indexing and not mobile only indexing. Google will still crawl and analyze your site even if it does not have a mobile version. However, the site may be penalized in the rankings because it does not have a mobile-friendly website.