Google announced the concept of mobile-first indexing back in 2016 when they recognised a widespread shift in people moving from desktop to mobile browsing. This change posed a problem for Google, as their ranking system was based on desktop versions of pages, rather than mobile – meaning in many cases, the pages being evaluated were not the pages the user was seeing.
In short, the search engine’s ranking system was no longer matching its users’ behaviour.
Roll on to March 2020, and Google has announced it will completely switch over to mobile-first indexing by September 2020. Most sites have moved over already, and you can check if yours has by logging into Google Search Console.
If you don’t have a Google Search Console account set up, I highly recommended creating one. It’s full of useful information about how your website is appearing and performing in search results.
In this article I’ll cover what mobile-first indexing is, why you should care about it and what you can do to maximise the benefit.
What is mobile-first indexing?
Back in 2018, we wrote a blog post on mobile-first indexing which outlined the state of play at the time:
“Simply put, Google aims to crawl your website as it appears on a mobile device and use this information to rank your site across all devices, including desktop.”
The mobile version of your website will be seen by Google’s ranking system as the primary version, and this has implications for those websites whose mobile and desktop versions are different, or if you have what’s called an ‘unresponsive’ site – one that doesn’t adapt to the screen size of a mobile or tablet, and doesn’t work well on those devices.
Why should you care?
At PracticeWeb we’re always shouting about the importance of being visible in search engines. After all, it’s the modern battleground for businesses.
If you’re not on the first page, you’re not in the game. According to a study of 5,000 search results from backlinco.com, the first organic search result is 10 times more likely to receive a click compared to the one in tenth position.
And while there are a lot of factors that contribute to your search engine rankings, having a website that’s responsive and can be crawled by Google’s mobile-first index is one of them. In fact, it’s a pretty fundamental one.
If you want to check that your website is mobile friendly, Google has provided this mobile-friendly testing tool. All you need to do is put in your firm’s website address, and within seconds the tool will inform you whether your site is mobile-friendly or not. It’ll also show you any issues you can fix.
Let’s not forget about customer experience, either. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly you may be losing customers who are visiting on a mobile or tablet, and struggle to find the information they’re looking for, pinching and zooming into your site to get a proper look at it.
These days, we can’t afford to make our prospects work to find information. If you’re one of many accounting firms on their list, you need to give them a reason to choose you over others. Don’t make them work for it.
The volume of mobile browsing also speaks for itself. According to statista.com, approximately half of the world’s web traffic in 2019 came from mobile devices.
That’s only set to grow as we become ever more mobile and digital.
What can you do to maximise the benefit?
If you have a responsive site, run it through the tools above and see if Google deems it mobile friendly, or if there are problems you might need to fix.
If you don’t have a responsive website, there’s no other option but to upgrade to a site that does.
At PracticeWeb, all the websites we build are responsive. Not only is this great news for the change to mobile-first indexing, but it also means your accountancy firm’s website will provide the same customer experience, whatever device it’s on.
Alternatively, you may have heard the term ‘mobile-first design’. We at PracticeWeb are also big believers in this approach.
Designing for mobile-first then scaling up to desktop means we have to focus on what’s critical. The hierarchy of what’s being shown and when is incredibly important. If you’re working with limited space and users’ limited attention span, your website’s design must get to the heart of what the prospect is looking for, and fast.
We spend time understanding what information a prospect needs to see on each page, what the ‘call to action’ is – the action we want the user to take next – and what key information they need to make that decision.
By doing so, we’re automatically optimising the site for mobile-first indexing, while providing a seamless cross-device customer experience. We take care of the technical side of mobile-first indexing too.
If your website isn’t responsive, now is the time to make that change. If you want to remain competitive and provide a seamless customer experience, you don’t really have a choice.
Contact us today to see what we can do to help you get your site responsive, while providing a top notch online customer experience in time for the September 2020 deadline.
If your firm’s website is responsive, run your it through the tools in this blog to check it is ready for mobile first indexing, so you can fix any issues before September.
If you want us to run an audit on your website or explain any of the technical issues you find, please get in touch.
Like and share using the buttons below.