How to prepare yourself for Google’s ‘mobile-first’

How to prepare yourself for Google’s ‘mobile-first’

“It’s going to be a big change, but don’t freak out,” – these are the words of Google webmaster trends analyst Gary Illyes at the SMX conference in Seattle back in June this year speaking about “mobile first”. But, what exactly is Google’s mobile-first and how could it affect you and your website?

Put basically, the search engine plans to start arranging search results with a primary focus on the mobile versions of websites as opposed to their desktop-based equivalents.

In fact, desktop sites will only be used by the internet giant if a mobile one isn’t available. So, it won’t matter whether you’re looking at a webpage on a PC, tablet or phone – Google will present search results where the rankings are based on the mobile versions of all relevant websites.

Why are they doing this and when is it happening?

Spending more time browsing the web from your mobile device, as opposed to a conventional personal computer, is likely to be something you’re familiar with. In fact, according to GO-Globe, almost 80% of internet use will be from mobiles by 2018. The proposed new move, therefore, comes as a response to this trend.

According to business2community, “[Google’s] aim is to deliver the most comprehensive and efficient experience for the majority of users; that is mobile users.”

Illyes suggests the change won’t affect the ranking of desktop content but will involve the search engine putting mobile content first.

What does this mean for your website?

If you have a fully developed desktop site or a responsive web design up and running, but no separate mobile version, there’s no need to worry. Google will crawl and index the former site on its own and the latter, the responsive site, will just adapt itself accordingly. How? A responsive design uses a percentage based approach to adapt online content so that it always fits the screen it’s being viewed from – whether desktop, tablet or mobile.

However, if you do have a mobile website which has different content to your desktop site – this is something you’ll probably want to sort out. Why? Because Google will take the content straight from your mobile website without ever viewing the desktop version.

This isn’t ideal, to say the least – it could be that some of the key content becomes completely invisible to the potential readers, customers or clients who visit your page.

Does Google have any recommendations?

They do, in fact they back the idea of responsive web design. It’s a great way of ensuring that every page of your site contains the same info on the desktop and mobile versions. And, with our many years of experience with SEO and web design, this is something that we’re more than capable of helping you with at BORN Thinking.

The good news is that, although originally expected to begin at the end of this year, according to Illyes, Google is unlikely to start making changes until 2018. But, we can help make sure you’re ready – adapting your site to a responsive web design and more – for when the time comes.

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