Is Your Website at Risk? Google Sets Deadline for Mobile-First Web Design

Posted by Kelly Braun on February 28, 2020 at 3:56 PM     SEOWebsite
Is Your Website at Risk? Google Sets Deadline for Mobile-First Web Design

Is your website mobile-friendly? If not, Google may no longer index your site - meaning it won’t show up in search! 

Google has begun notifying website owners via their Search Console about mobile-first indexing issues. The notice, according to Search Engine Land, says website owners have 6-12 months to get their sites up to speed as Google goes to mobile-first indexing for all websites.

Google has been saying for more than a year that it would go to mobile-first indexing, but this is the first that they have noted a deadline.

What is Mobile-First Indexing?

For many years, Google would use the desktop experience of your website when indexing the site for search. (Indexing is the process of storing website information on the world wide web. If your site is not indexed, it will not show up in search at all.)

Then, Google allowed webmasters to choose if they would like their sites to be indexed - both their desktop version and the mobile version. 

And now, Google is saying all sites will be indexed mobile-first, meaning you must have a mobile version of your website in order for it to be indexed. 

Why are they doing this? Because mobile devices (think SmartPhones, tablets, etc.) have become the preferred device of choice when searching online.

How to Know if My Site is Mobile-First

First - if you have it set up - check your Google Search Console for a notification on the message board. It will indicate if your site is not mobile-first. This is where Google is reportedly sending notifications about “indexing issues detected.”

If you don’t have a Google Search Console account set up, we highly recommend you do so, as it provides valuable search data, such as how users are searching, page rank positions and more.

While the search console will provide the most reliable information, you can also use Google’s free tool, the Mobile-Friendly Test Tool. Simply plug in your URL, and within seconds, it will provide information on whether your site is mobile-friendly or not.

How Can I Make My Site Mobile-Friendly?

No. 1, you are going to need a responsive design. A mobile-responsive design is one that changes to fit any screen size, whether SmartPhone, tablet or desktop. The content -- or information -- on your site also needs to be written and laid out in a way that works on all of these devices. Long blocks of content may work for desktop users, but may not be user-friendly on a phone.  

Secondly, you will need to optimize your site for fast page speed on any device. No one wants a site that loads slowly - including Google. This involves compressing large images, minifying your site’s CSS, HTML and Javascript files, updating plugins or uninstalling unused plugins, and resolving any other issues causing pages to load slowly.

Lastly, you will want to make a few final technical checks, such as ensuring that links to site maps and search bots (which crawl your site via links for indexing) are accessible from the mobile version and that your mobile version is verified in Google Search Console. 

When Do I Make the Switch?

Going to a mobile-first website may not happen in a day or overnight, but you do have 6-12 months to make it happen. 

Our advice to all business owners: don’t wait. SmartPhones, tablets, and new mobile devices being developed are only going to continue to grow in popularity, and Google, along with all other search engines, has recognized this. 

To ensure your business’s website doesn’t lose its search ranking or completely disappear from search, start planning now on how to make your site mobile-first.


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